BSECS 2016: Writing, Religion, and Enlightenment Panel

Call for Papers: Writing, Religion, and Enlightenment panel at BSECS 2016 (St Hugh’s College, Oxford, 6th-8th January 2016)

The focus of this panel is the relationship between writing and religion in the period of the Enlightenment (broadly interpreted). We invite proposals for 20 minute papers on this theme in relation to texts, from the canonical to the unpublished, connected with or produced by different religious denominations and communities (Anglican, Dissenting, Catholic, Jewish, Baptist, Quaker and others). We are open to methodological approaches drawn from different disciplines, but the central concerns of the panel are: i) The ways in which individuals and groups represent and live their religious faith and identity through the reading, writing, and dissemination of texts; and ii) critical analysis of texts that might be termed ‘religious’ with a particular attention to language, form and genre.

Additional questions that the panel might address include, but are not limited to:

  • How were religious genres including hymnody, sermon and prayer conceived of in the period? What differentiates them from genres in the secular tradition?
  • How do religious writers imagine their readers?
  • How can religious texts be situated within the textual landscape of the Enlightenment? And in what ways do they engage with key Enlightenment debates (including, for example, ideas of self and of agency, rationality, and forms of knowledge)?
  • How do eighteenth-century writers validate their religious writing, and on what grounds do they negotiate the internal and external authority of their work?
  • How might we counter claims that religious writing fails to conform to the ideal of the literary?
  • What are the advantages/limitations of seeking to recuperate close reading and form-based criticism as an alternative to the historicist monopoly over the study of religious literature?
  • What can we learn from an investigation of religious writing that might influence our analysis of literary texts more broadly?

This panel represents the latest in a series of events organised by the panel chairs, and suitable papers will be considered for a planned publication comprising a journal special edition on this theme in 2017.

Abstracts of 250 words or fewer should be submitted by midnight on 11th October 2015 to L.I.Davies@soton.ac.uk

Details of the BSECS Annual Conference can be found at http://www.bsecs.org.uk/


Anne Page

Anne Dunan-Page is Professor of early modern British studies at Aix-Marseille University

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