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Arts, Literature, and Religion Unit

Call for Proposals for November Meeting

The Arts, Literature and Religion Unit welcomes paper and panel proposals for the following themes. Please indicate to which of these themes you are responding. There will not be an open call for papers this year.


Workshop: “Art Theology, Non-Violence, and Wisdom from Margins.”

Contact: María Mercedes Carrión (, and Angela Hummel (

Theology methodologies are usually based on argumentation and discursive reasoning. Art Theology, grounded in Expressionism and cognitive sciences, promotes the idea that divine love is a reality that expands our ideas of love, rather than seeking to be “right”. Through art making, Art Theology questions how the discipline of theology has both accentuated and erased the lines of violence and marginalization.

This interactive workshop invites participants to make theology by making art and reflecting on the meanings that lines and colors hold. Choosing from a variety of materials (pastels, paints, colored pencils, markers, colored paper, etc.) we will reflect on our own understanding of the world through color. As the art making process unfolds, participants will consider theological questions such as what divine love is and how it relates to violence or to the creation of margins.

Workshop schedule: Presentation of Art Theology by Angela Hummel (15 minutes). Introduction to the workshop and set up (15 minutes). Creation and meanings of color and lines (20 minutes). Sharing wisdom from that creation and meanings (20 minutes). Creation of color and lines in response to art theological questions (15 minutes). Sharing findings (15 minutes). Group discussion and next steps (20-25 minutes).

The workshop will be led by Angela Hummel, MFA, and PhD candidate at Iliff school of Theology. Hummel is the recipient of a Roanridge grant to practice Art Theology. Her work on Art Theology has led to her being invited to be a TEDx speaker. Hummel is also a top blogger for the Wabash Foundation, and an adjunct professor at Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design.

Prospective participants, please submit a 300-words statement of interest and a one-page CV.


Interpreting cartographies

Contacts: Adam Newman, (, and George Pati, (

We invite papers and panel proposals on cartography or mapping for this session. We are particularly interested in cartography in a religious setting, including natural and imagined spaces, bodies as maps, and maps as sacred literature. We welcome papers focusing on cartography from the margins and the art of cartography, inviting participants to demonstrate cartography as a religious meaning-making technique. This session is interested in and open to a wide range of methodological and disciplinary perspectives.


Violence, nonviolence, and the margin

Contact: George Pati, (

The presidential theme for 2024 AAR is “Violence, Nonviolence, and The Margin.” For this session, we invite papers and panel proposals on violence and nonviolence from the margins in arts and literature. Violence is perceived not only in physical and visible forms but also in social structures and how such violence is responded from nonviolent means through arts and literature from the margins.


The embodied artist; the artist as text

Contacts: Cia Sautter, (, and Akhil Thomas, (

This session considers the embodied knowledge of the artist and artwork. Embodied art may include performances of the human body like dance and theatre, but also film, visual arts, and literature as embodied. Papers may discuss the theological or religious discovery inherent in the embodied act of creating art, the embodiment of religious values in the art work, or a combination. We also encourage live performances braided with the papers and are open to a wide variety of traditions and imaginations.


Art and literature as human experience

Contact: Ossama Abdelgawwad, (

We invite papers that discuss work in the study of Arts, Literature, and Religion, which tends most often to read cultural expression through ideas, themes, and texts deemed religious, theological, spiritual, secular, philosophical, and ethical (to name a few). How does studying art, literature, and religion allow us to articulate the most challenging aspects of human experiences, such as death, suffering, pleasure, happiness, etc.? How does it make conceptual interventions to theological, religious, and philosophical questions? We invite individual papers and/or panel proposals on human experiences expressed in art-making, texts, religious discourses, etc., broadly defined.


Art and literature as intervention

Contact: Cooper Harris, (

We invite papers and/or panel proposals on what it means to reverse this course, understanding expressive texts, repertoire, and phenomena to intervene actively in (rather than to respond to) discourses understood to be religious, theological, secular, philosophical, or ethical (this list is not exhaustive)? What difference does this reversal of readings make? What aspects, functions, and significances of artistic expression, broadly construed, illuminate the condition or experience of being human? Is art uniquely capable of doing so? How and why does this matter?


Contemporary iconography (co-sponsored with the Eastern Orthodox Studies Unit)

Contacts: Ashley M. Purpura (, and Gloria Maité Hernández (

For this session, we invite papers and panel proposals on religious iconography. We are particularly (but not exclusively) interested in styles, theological interpretations, religious praxis, and the public use of iconography in the contexts of, or in comparison with, Orthodox and/or Eastern Christianity. We welcome consideration of contemporary iconographic developments, the political use of icons, icons in secular spaces, mysticism and icons, unofficial and subversive icons, the use of icons in prayer and theology, and invite participants to demonstrate iconographic techniques or bring physical examples. This session is interested in, and open to, a wide range of methodological and disciplinary perspectives, including but not limited to ethics, theology and religious thought, art history, material culture, anthropology, and practicing iconographers/artists.


Cinematic Adaptations of Literature (Co-sponsored with the Religion, Film, and Visual Culture Unit)

Contact: Joel Mayward (, and George Pati, (

How have works of literature been adapted or translated to the cinematic medium for religious purposes? What are the losses and gains of such transpositions, and how have they been utilized in religious contexts and communities? The Art, Literature, and Religion Unit and the Religion, Film, and Visual Culture Unit invites pre-arranged panels or individual papers that investigate the adaptation, creation, and reception of such audiovisual works. We also welcome panels which provide an in-depth consideration of a single cinematic artwork from a variety of methodologies and perspectives. We welcome submissions that theorize the adaptation and interpretation process and/or examine the implications of such cinematic works for various religious or socio-political groups, particularly marginalized communities. We are particularly interested in exploring cinematic works which are outside the "Bible film" genre.

The term "Cinematic" may include film, television, advertisements, museum installations, graphic design, video curriculum, YouTube, online social media (e.g., Instagram, TikTok, etc.), digital communication, and other forms of audiovisual moving images.

Statement of Purpose

This Unit seeks to engage the critical issues at the intersection of religion, literature, and the arts. We are concerned with both the aesthetic dimensions of religion and the religious dimensions of literature and the arts, including the visual, performative, written, and verbal arts. Approaches to these two avenues of concern are interdisciplinary and varied, including both traditional methodologies — theological, hermeneutical, and comparative approaches associated with the history of religions — and emerging methodologies, those that emerge from poststructuralism, studies in material culture, and cultural studies.


Steering Committee Members



Review Process

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

Review Process Comments

There will not be an open call for papers this year.