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Arts, Literature, and Religion Unit

Call for Proposals

This year the Arts, Literature and Religion Unit solicits proposals for the following topics, but also welcomes proposals for any papers or preferably pre-formed panels related to any aspect of Arts, Literature and Religion. We are hoping for a rich slate of panels that display a wide range of religious expression, using varied media (including the performing arts) that span geographical locales and the premodern, modern, and contemporary periods. The ALR is also committed to diversity, and we want to encourage potential presenters and panel organizers to propose topics that will attract a wide audience and that are explicitly and deliberately inclusive of racial and ethnic identities, gender identities and sexual orientations, socio-economic / class status, varied types of academic appointments (e.g. graduate students, contingent faculty, early, mid-, late-career professors, international colleagues, and independent scholars) at a variety of institutional types.

  • Throughout the world, the relationship between dance, religion and ritual is deep, whether specifically religious or tangential spiritual expression of grief, joy, lament, and hope. Mourning dances in the Bible and Jewish tradition are one such example, as are many wedding dance traditions. Dance may also symbolically portray the process of death and rebirth, such as the dance of Shiva, some forms of Butoh, or historically the use of folk dances incorporated into church festivities. Dance is also now being used for healing from trauma and spiritual well-being. This session welcomes papers addressing dance that spans the range from loss to hope, grieving to joy. Papers dealing with current as well as historical practices from a wide variety of traditions will be considered. Contact: Cia Sautter,
  • One hundred years ago, James Joyce’s Ulysses and T.S. Eliot’s Waste Land were published. These works would mark the beginnings of what became known as “Modernism.” But how might we rethink this legacy now? Not simply the legacy of these works which have already been critically exhausted, but about the movement, and very conception of “modernism”? What was modernism? What might that designation do for us today? We are particularly interested in approaches that include the religious/theological and the literary/artistic perspectives. Contact: S. Brent Rodriguez-Plate,
  • Ruins, whether metaphorical or physical, have inspired poets, theologians, philosophers, and artists. Images of ruins capture at once the reality of impermanence and the perseverance of life. From the ruins of religious sites to the descriptions of entire ruined cities in major religious texts, ruins evoke humans’ and divines’ capacity to destroy and to reconstruct. This panel will include papers that examine the imagery of ruins. We are particularly interested in approaches that include the religious/theological and the literary/artistic perspectives. Contact: Gloria M. Hernandez,
  • (Co-sponsored with Religion and Disability Studies Unit) Persons with disabilities are often depicted as passive or weak in many socio-religious contexts. Such depictions overlook instances where these persons actively use arts and literature as either forms of religious expression or means of religious experience. This panel will include papers that discuss how the arts and literature of various religious traditions present disability, as well as particular ways in which persons with disabilities utilize arts and literature for religious expression or experience. Contact: George Pati,
  • Aging has been studied extensively by sociologists and anthropologists to understand various aspects of aging in different contexts and cultures. Every religion has a way of engaging with old age rituals, aging, and elderly knowledge. This panel invites papers that engage with old age or aging in arts and literature in different religious and historical contexts, as well as particular ways in which aging persons employ arts and literature for religious experience and expression. Contact: George Pati,
  • African diasporic movements are usually framed as transatlantic phenomena. What happens when scholars decenter the Atlantic, focusing instead upon the Pacific (or other bodies of water) or the interoceanic nature of the American continent, broadly construed, in the arts, literature, and religion of the African diaspora? How do the formations and representations that emerge from interactions of religion and artistic production (including visual and material arts, music, literature, dance, performance, and so forth) reshape transnational diasporic identities? Contact: Cooper Harriss,
  • In early 2022 the Denver Art Museum will present the exhibit “Traitor, Survivor, Icon,” a visual exploration of the enslaved Aztec woman known as “La Malinche,” who played a pivotal role in the Spanish conquest of Mexico. This exhibit, meant to represent Malinche’s “enduring impact on communities living on both sides of the US-Mexico border,” prompts an opportunity for scholars of religion convening in Denver to explore exhibitions of unconventional, contested, and even controversial icons and relics connected with histories of indignity, colonialism, and borderlands. We invite proposals from museum professionals, artists, activists, and academics whose work engages such themes. We are especially interested in works that demonstrate attention to particular images, objects, collections, audiences and/or locations in their analyses. Examples may include public museum exhibitions, private collections, digital curations, public art installations, and other forms of display that prompt consideration of religion in politics of representation through icons and relics of contested subjects. Contact: Rachel Lindsey,
  • Open call for papers related to Arts, Literature, and Religion

Statement of Purpose


Steering Committee Members



Review Process

Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members