Those who had the privilege of being at the 19thbiennial ISRLC conference in Uppsala, Sweden (28-30 September, 2018) experienced yet another full programme of engaging discussion and debate in a richly interdisciplinary environment, this time on the theme of “The Place of Truth”. We are grateful to our hosts, Mattias Martinson of Uppsala University and Petra Carlsson of Stockholm School of Theology, together with their organising committee, for putting together a stimulating weekend of sessions, social gatherings, and after hour discussions, where exigent scholarship crossed numerous boundaries and addressed many of the current issues pressing upon our world. Participants once again spanned a global map, and twelve different panels offered multiple ways to address the timely theme, with Sweden, and its own political situation, as a worthy backdrop.
This year’s keynote speakers received sponsorship from two different sources: Jeffrey W. Robbins, Chair and Professor of Religion and Philosophy at Lebanon Valley College, delivered the Olaus Petri Lecture; Linn Tonstad, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, Yale Divinity School, gave the Literature and TheologyLecture. Both placed the question of truth perhaps unexpectedly, whether in “the good strong lie” (Robbins) or in reconceived notions of the “everyday” (Tonstad). The latter will feature in a subsequent issue of the sponsoring journal Literature and Theology (OUP).
That issue will also feature highlighted papers from other panels, and as is usual, panel convenors have been asked to forward sessional papers of exceptional quality they felt best embodied the conference theme and the Society’s spirit. From these, editors of Literature and Theology, working with Mattias Martinson and Petra Carlsson, will compile a special issue to emerge next year.
A central agenda item of the business meeting was to ratify the proposed new constitution for the Society. We are happy to report that the document, drafted by transitional committee members Andrew Hass, Alana Vincent, Heather Walton, Brent Plate, Mattias Martinson, and Petra Carlsson, was unanimously passed. It can now be obtained online at the appropriate adjacent link on this site. In agreeing to the constitution, two of the Officer roles were automatically filled for the next two years: Alana Vincent becomes the new President, and Mattias Martinson and Petra Carlsson become joint Vice-presidents. Since there was too little time for the membership to consider the remaining roles, and to solicit nominations, it was agreed that an interim committee would continue in place till the next General Meeting when voting can take place: Andrew Hass will continue to fulfil the roles of General Secretary and Treasurer, Alana Vincent the role of Communications Officer. Heather Walton and her successor Mark Knight will appoint someone for the role of Journal Representative. Solicitations for nominations of General Secretary, Treasurer and Communications Officer will be renewed in due course.
The other great achievement of the business meeting was not, as is usual, to seek mere suggestions for the next conference, but rather to announce its confirmed location: Chester, England. Alana Vincent had been weighing up the possibilities for several years, and was able to verify that she and her colleagues at the University of Chester will be happy to host the event from 11-13thof September 2020. We are grateful to Alana for stepping forward, and we look forward to working alongside her and her colleagues over the course of the next two years on the proposed theme of “Transmutations & Transgressions”. Alana will confirm details as the time draws nearer. In the meantime, please enter the second week of September 2020 into your diaries, and keep your eye on this website.
Thanks again to all who participated in Uppsala. We hope the inspirations, ideas, and new connections gained over the three days linger long into your academic year, and energise you to move creatively and with renewed purpose through all the various institutional and professional pressures we increasingly face.
With all best wishes,
International Society for Religion, Literature and Culture