21st biennial ISRLC conference

5-8 September 2024

Hotel Rebild Bakker under the auspices of Aarhus University, Denmark

The Irreplicable Human/-ities?

Since the Enlightenment, the Humanities have held a central position in Western cultures, reflecting on how humans relate to each other, on how to interpret the diversity and complexities of human life, and on what fosters the good life within the human household called society. The Humanities are, however, demanding and importunate disciplines. They require not only freedom, but also time and space to let the imagination and emotional intelligence run freely in the pursuit of new or more complex knowledge. Their curiosity is inhibited by requests of efficiency improvement, external funding, employability discourse, marketing terminology, and digitalisations. Instead of complying, the Humanities repay society for its sustenance by complicating public debates and political decision-making, by deconstructing and being critical of societal beliefs and practices as well as power structures. It is no wonder then that Western cultures prioritise investments in the more practical and instrumental disciplines of Natural Sciences, Technology, Engineering, and Medicine.

The purpose of the ISRLC Conference 2024 is for scholars working specifically or broadly in religion, literature, and culture to reflect on and exemplify what scholarship within the Humanities, including Theology, has to offer in contributing to a renewed mission for the Humanities, and in concretising its value for our rapidly changing world.

Much has happened to human life and culture since Renaissance thinkers founded the Humanities to liberate humans from religious truth claims and power, and since Humboldt argued for academic freedom independent from political and economic influences. Enlightened cultures developed into belligerent nations, some engaged in genocides, and all share a responsibility for the exploitation of non-Western cultures and the Earth’s resources, leading to demographic and ecological crises as well as postcolonial and posthumanistic countermeasures. Humans have also invested in the development of technology and artificial intelligence (AI) so successfully that many humans have come to fear for their own dispensability. Lately, search engines and now chatbots, drawing on infinite, digitally stored external memory processed at warp speed, have accelerated in providing not just trivia but eloquent elaborations in reply to complex questions. This raises questions as to the uniqueness of the human mind.

This interdisciplinary conference will therefore interrogate the resulting lines of inquiry: Is the human replicable, or is there something in the human executive functions that is irreplicable? Is there still a human “spirit” that goes beyond the input/output schema of machinery? As artificially produced knowledge, “social” media, incessant information flow, and digital entertainment compete for our attention, what can motivate engagements among humans, particularly on the basis of knowledge about religion, literature, and culture, that may be heard above AI and other digital productions? The ISRLC Conference 2024 and its individual panels will reflect on the irreplicability of the human, and on what would constitute a meaningful, ethical, and fulfilling attentiveness in a world with so many options and challenges.

To present, please click on “Call for Papers“.

Important dates

  • Call for Papers opens: 1 October 2023

  • Call for Papers closes: 15 December 2023

  • Note of Acceptance: 1 February 2024

  • Registration opens: 1 February 2024

  • Application for bursaries opens: 1 February 2024

  • Application for bursaries closes: 1 March 2024

  • Registration closes: 1 June 2024

  • Conference: 5-8 September 2024


Academic organisation: International Society for Religion, Literature and Culture (ISRLC)
Conference organiser and president of the ISRLC: Dr. Marianne Schleicher (ms@cas.au.dk)
Conference coordinator: PhD student Emma Cecilie Sørlie Jørgensen (ej@cas.au.dk)
Host institution: Aarhus University, Denmark.