Archive | August 2011

Call for Papers: Modernism, Christianity, and Apocalypse (18-20 July 2012)

CALL FOR PAPERS: Modernism, Christianity, and Apocalypse (18-20 July 2012)

A conference organised by the Department of Foreign Languages at the University of Bergen, Norway; funded by the Bergen Research Foundation through the ‘Modernism and Christianity’ research project.

Conference organisers:

  • Dr Erik Tonning
  • Dr Matthew Feldman


  • Professor Paul S. Fiddes (University of Oxford)
  • Professor John Milbank (University of Nottingham)
  • Professor Hans Ottomeyer (Former Director of the German Historical Museum)
  • Professor Marjorie Perloff (University of Southern California)


  • Professor C. J. Ackerley (University of Otago)
  • Professor Mary Bryden (University of Reading)
  • Professor Pericles Lewis (Yale University)
  • Professor Gregory Maertz (St. John’s University, NY)
  • Professor Shane Weller (University of Kent)

The modernist imperative ‘Make it new!’ posits a break with traditional artistic forms, but also with the entire mould of a civilization felt to be in a state of terminal decay (‘an old bitch, gone in the teeth’, as a second dictum by Ezra Pound has it). Modernism was steeped in the language of apocalyptic crisis, generating multiple (and contradictory) millennial visions of artistic, cultural, religious and political transformation. This conference will examine the continuing impact of Christianity upon the modernist thinking of Apocalypse in Western culture, covering the period of early-to-high modernism (c. 1880-1945), with glances towards the immediate aftermath of World War II and the Bomb. ‘Modernism’ is not here confined to the arts, and contributions are warmly invited from scholars across the humanities and social sciences. The modernist crisis is often depicted as emerging ‘after’ disenchantment and secularisation. Yet contemporary assessments of Christianity varied strikingly, as modernist thinkers, artists, writers and political ideologues confronted its entrenched authority and formidable capacity for self-reinvention. Certainly, as the historian Peter J. Bowler has shown, the effort to ‘reconcile’ science and religion was in no way abandoned in early twentieth century discourse. Nor, of course, did the efforts of theologians across the confessional spectrum suddenly cease: on the contrary, theology from Karl Barth to the Nouvelle Théologie and beyond delivered penetrating responses to modernity. More radical theorists and philosophers of the modern from Nietzsche onward also grappled with Christianity, often becoming further enmeshed even while prophesying the Death of God. Indeed, whether read through Frazer’s dying gods or Freud’s paternal totems, the Christian stories stubbornly resisted easy assimilation. Repeatedly, artists and writers exploring radically new modes of religious experience might find their works subtly infiltrated by biblical or liturgical language and iconography. Christianity also garnered modernist converts: for some, the promise of cultural resurrection would converge on a return to orthodoxy following the liberal dilutions of the nineteenth century; while others freely adapted the tradition to suit their spiritual needs. Even those chary of such a step, or actively hostile to Christian faith, continued to reinvent the cultural resources and imagery of the Christian past – if only in order to overturn it in favour of a new future. The political religions of the twentieth century (Stalinism, Fascism, Nazism) promulgated their own revolutionary visions of Apocalypse and a secular Kingdom, casting Christianity as a chief antagonist, or at least as subservient to a vitalist national-political will. Nonetheless, these alternative salvation histories, too, were undeniably linked to their paradigm in the Christian tradition.

The complexities and ambiguities involved in such historical transactions are obvious: and interdisciplinary insights are essential in mapping them. Modernism, Christianity, and Apocalypse thus invites contributions by scholars in all relevant fields. New archival information and empirical research on this period is welcomed alongside broader theoretical and historical re-evaluations of the modernist crisis, or novel readings of central texts. A concerted effort to recover the complex interwovenness of modernism, Christianity and the apocalyptic imagination is especially urgent today, as the very idea of a ‘post-secular’ culture is being interrogated anew in a global context. Indeed, the recent Norway terror by a self-proclaimed crusader for ‘European civilization’ is a horrifying reminder that the contestation of history, and the proclamation of eschatologies, can still turn bloody.

Suggestions for individual papers/panels (others also welcome):

  • America, the UK and Ireland: W. H. Auden, Samuel Beckett, T. S. Eliot, William Faulkner, David Jones, James Joyce, D. H. Lawrence, Wyndham Lewis, Flannery O’Connor, Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens, Virginia Woolf
  • France: Georges Bataille, Paul Claudel, André Gide, Charles Péguy, Simone Weil
  • Germany: Thomas Mann, Alfred Döblin, German expressionism
  • Russia: Anna Akhmatova, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Leo Tolstoy
  • Scandinavia: Knut Hamsun, August Strindberg


Conference venue: Hotel solstrand (outside Bergen, Norway)
CONFERENCE FEE (early bird rate): NOK 3700: This covers all expenses, including conference pack; two nights at the hotel; three lunches, two breakfasts and two dinners at the hotel (famous for its food); access to excellent sauna, pool and steam-room facilities; and a direct conference bus (at c. 11 am, c. 25-30 mins) to the hotel from Flesland airport (18th), with a return on Friday afternoon (20th, at 4 pm). There is also a postgraduate rate of NOK 3200 available. PLEASE NOTE: This subsidized rate is offered through conference funding provided by the Bergen Research Foundation. Registration at this rate is therefore limited to 75 delegates. Once this number of total delegates has been reached, additional registrations will cost NOK 4400. All delegates registering after 1 May 2012 will also be charged at this higher rate. Early registration is thus strongly recommended.

To register: Please send your title, abstract (100-200 words) and biographical information to for consideration. Upon acceptance of your proposed paper (20 minutes), payment details will be emailed back to you. You will then have three weeks to complete your registration by making your payment: after this time, your place may be offered to someone else. Should you wish to cancel your registration at a later stage, a refund will be available (minus a service charge).


Callum Brown to speak on ‘The People of No Religion’

If I weren’t broke, I’d definitely consider making the trip down from Edinburgh for this one. Callum Brown has some interesting ideas regarding the role played by gender equality in the seeming demise of the mainstream church in Britain. You should check out the book mentioned below if you can…

Callum Brown (author of ‘The Death of Christian Britain’ amongst other things) will speak to the Modern Cultural History Seminar, in the History Faculty at the University of Cambridge, on Wednesday 12 October, at 5pm, in the Panelled Combination Room, Gonville and Caius College.

Title: ‘The people of no religion: the demographics of secularisation in the English-speaking world since c.1900’

All welcome.

Postsecular cities in an age of austerity: religion, spirituality, economic restructuring and urban change – a critical dialogue

Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, New York City, NY (24-28 February 2012)

Conveners: Chris Baker (University of Chester, UK), Justin Beaumont (University of Grongingen, NL)

AAG Sponsorship – GORABS (Geographies of Religion and Belief Systems Speciality Group)

This session addresses a series of overlapping agendas that have emerged with growing force and significance in the early 21st century.

First, the global re-emergence of religion as a political and cultural force within the public domain has gained considerable attention across the social sciences and the humanities. Even within the ‘secular West’ the significance of religion as a tool of government social policy has increased, while patterns of immigration and the religious practices they bring to European cities problematize a straightforward ‘religion in decline’ thesis. Meanwhile, the growing re-enchantment of the West, as evidenced in the rise of spiritual practices and interest in non-material goods (such as wellbeing and happiness) has led to a vigorous debate about the emergence of a postsecular public space. Jurgen Habermas for example suggests the West has reached a point where ‘a postsecular understanding of society as a whole in which the vigorous continuation of religion in a continually secularising environment must be reckoned with’ (2005: 26). Charles Taylor amplifies Habermas’s ideas to the effect that the current secular age is characterized by the notion of choice. Although the main social and cultural frameworks in the West have moved from a Christian to a secular one, nevertheless religious belief persists and mutates but now within the context of multiplicity.

Second, the global recession affects everyone but clearly some parts of the world are adversely affected more than others. The escalating cost of essential commodities, the devastating impacts of climate change, competition for land and resources, and growing social and economic inequalities is placing huge strain on existing infrastructures of support, be they families, communities, the voluntary sector, local governments or nation states. Attention has therefore turned to alternative sources of resilience and values and the search is now on for sustainable, more just and more holistic forms of political economy within an age of austerity that creates the conditions for both human and non-human flourishing. The search for new partnerships based on more ethical forms of political economy and society clearly involve an increased role for religious individuals, institutions and communities to bend the public and urban agenda in this direction via practices and discourses that are both traditional but also groundbreaking.

Finally, when one reflects on these two drivers of public discourse (i.e. the postsecular and the age of austerity) then one observes that it is in urban spaces that the mutating relationships between the religious and the secular, the sacred and the profane, the public and the private and the growing inequalities between rich and poor are most starkly evidenced. There have also been, clearly, a number of spatial restructurings undergone by towns and cities since the early 1990s as the global economy shifts towards the production of knowledge, information, innovation and virtual forms of capital transfer and investment. Several of these religious, political and economic changes have been analysed in a number of recent publications (see Molendijk, Beaumont and Jedan 2010; Beaumont and Baker 2011; Atherton, Graham and Steedman 2010) in which the following features take a prominent role:

· The complexities of secularism as well as religion;

· The contested nature of religious space within secular jurisdictions (e.g. planning and urban management);

· New spaces of belonging, becoming and participation by religious groups within urban contexts;

· The new sacrality of the postmodern city;

· New practices of social care and justice by religious and spiritual groups;

· Theological critiques and visions for a better (or good or “just”) city;

· Crossovers (or rapprochements) between religious and secular discourses and practices on ideas of the common good, happiness and wellbeing and human/non-human flourishing.

Within this session we would therefore welcome papers from a range of interdisciplinary and critical perspectives on the following topics:

· Religion and political economy

· The role and form of religious buildings within urban space;

· Spiritual capital, moral freighting and neighbourliness;

· Resilience and addiction;

· Urban justice and social welfare;

· Symbolic representations of the sacred;

· Religious Identity and experiences of belonging;

· Counter-hegemonic spaces and alternative structures;

· Everyday religion in the mundane.

If you would like to participate in a session, please send a 200 word abstract (listing name, affiliation and contact details) as well as your PINs to both and by 15 September, 2011. You should consult the AAG website ( for online registration and abstract submission instructions.


Beaumont, J. and C. Baker (eds) (2011) Postsecular Cities: space, theory and practice, London and New York: Continuum.

Atherton, J. Graham, E. and I. Steedman (eds) (2010) The Practices of Happiness: political economy, religion and wellbeing, Abingdon: Routledge.

Habermas, J. (2005) ‘Equal treatment of cultures and the limits of postmodern liberalism’, Journal of Political Philosophy, 13(1): 1-28.

Molendijk, A., Beaumont, J. and C. Jedan (eds) (2010) Exploring the Postsecular: the religious, the political and the urban, Leiden: Brill.

Taylor, C. (2007) A Secular Age, Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press.

The Postsecular in International Politics (Conference)

I would totally be attending this conference if I weren’t on my way to present at another conference in the US. For those in the UK, it will definitely be worth checking out!

Welcome to the blog for the International ESRC-sponsored conference, The Postsecular in International Politics, taking place at the University of Sussex on 27th-28th October 2011. The Postsecular in International Politics will bring together a range of internationally renowned scholars. Speakers  include: Joseph Camilleri, Stephen Chan, Fred Dallmayr, Richard Falk, Jeff Haynes, Mustapha Pasha, Tariq Ramadan, Nick Rengger, Richard Sakwa,  Ole Wæve … Read More

via The Postsecular in International Politics

The Day the World Changed – Conversation – Edinburgh


Saturday 27 August, 9.30am – 10.30am

St John’s Church (Venue 127), Edinburgh

As we approach the 10th anniversary of 9/11 what is the legacy of that day and the conflict which ensued? Is the predicted ‘clash of civilisations’ being played out? We welcome Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, founder of the Cordoba Initiative in Manhattan and visionary leader of the so-called ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ – who was at the eye of the storm last September as US public opinion wrestled with the bitterness of 9/11, the threatened burning of the Quran, overseas wars in Muslim countries and growing Islamophobia at home. Can the US exorcise the ghosts of 9/11? In conversation withProfessor Hugh Goddard from the Alwaleed network of centres promoting mutual understanding between the World of Islam and the West.

In partnership with the Prince Alwaleed Centre for the Study of Islam in the Contemporary World at the University of Edinburgh.

 For further details and tickets:

Upcoming Conferences on Secularities, Information & Religion, Multi-Faith Spaces, and Antropology of Religion

Multiple Secularities and Global Interconnectedness, University of Leipzig, 13 – 15 October 2011

In this conference, we further the debate on secularism and secularity by focusing on the challenges arising from globalization and different forms of interconnectedness. Discussing these challenges from an interdisciplinary and comparative perspective, the conference addresses, amongst other topics, path dependencies and their transformations; vernacular secularities and the vexing question of translatability and interculturality; the usefulness of the ‘Multiple Modernities’ approach as well as the complex interfaces between secularism, colonialism and post-colonial culture.

The conference will start with an opening session on Thursday, 13 October, at 18:00 and end with a plenary session on Saturday, 15 October, at 17:00. The conference is open to all interested participants. Registration can be done through the conference website. The participation fee is 25euro, which includes coffee in the breaks.

Second Annual International Conference on Information & Religion

Theme: Preservation and Access: Facilitating Research in Information and Religion
Keynote: Carisse Berryhill, Ph.D., Special Collections Librarian, Abilene Christian University
May 18-19, 2012 ~ Kent State University, Kent, OH

Call for Papers and Posters

The Center for the Study of Information and Religion (CSIR) will host its Second Annual International Conference on Information and Religion in May 2012. This call for papers seeks original contributions in all areas related to information and religion. The conference theme invites participants to share their work in a variety of areas in which scholars are exploring the intersections of religion and information. Topics that might be addressed include but are not limited to the following:

  • Preserving and making available religious texts and information objects associated with communities of faith;
  • Social uses and appropriations made of these texts and objects;
  • The information-seeking behavior of clergy;
  • The role of the sermon as an influential communication medium in society; case studies in the sermon preparation task;
  • Information in its application to local congregations as communities of practice;
  • Faith and many types of intelligence (e.g., emotional intelligence);
  • Dissemination of  faith messages;
  • Intersections of interests in the study of information and religion, where different disciplines might find it worthwhile to collaborate in research.

Prospective participants are encouraged to submit abstracts that report on recent research and scholarship. Contributions to this call for papers should not have been previously published. We also welcome proposals for poster presentations. There are no restrictions on research methodology.

Instructions for submitting refereed paper or poster extended abstracts: The abstract should be no longer than 250 words (including research question, methods, results). Include the title of the paper/poster, names, affiliations, and contact information of the authors (with one author to be designated as the contact for the paper). Submit abstracts in PDF or Word format by Dec. 31, 2011, to Dr. Rosemary Du Mont, CSIR Associate, at Notification of acceptance: February 1, 2012.

Papers accepted for presentation at the conference will be considered for publication in ASIR (Advances in the Study of Information and Religion). Details regarding submission of full papers will be given to those whose abstracts are accepted for conference presentation. Please note: Presenters are responsible for their own expenses related to the conference, including but not limited to registration fees, lodging, transportation and meals.

For more information, please contact Dr. Don Wicks (, Interim Director of SLIS and Director of CSIR, or Dr. Dan Roland (, CSIR Primary Researcher.

International Conference on Multi-Faith Spaces, 21st – 22nd March 2012, University of Manchester, UK
This conference will bring together key outputs from the three year research project Multi-Faith Spaces: Symptoms & Agents of Religious and Social Change, funded by the AHRC/ESRC under the Religion and Society Programme. The project considers how individuals from different religious and cultural backgrounds might be brought together, concretely, within new types of ‘faith space’ that are often simultaneously religious, spiritual and secular. The conference will coincide with the launch of a touring photographic exhibition.
Further details can be found at:
In addition to presenting our findings, we hope to encourage contributions from stakeholders within the extended project, alongside a number of individuals working in the area of multi-faith provision (from academic, professional or practitioner backgrounds). To facilitate conversations across disciplinary boundaries, we envisage a range of attendees and contributors from academia, architectural practice, chaplaincy, interior design, public policy, and a host of other fields.
We are currently preparing our programme, and would welcome expressions of interest within the following areas (note: this list is not exhaustive, and other contributions are encouraged):
– Multi-faith theologies and spatial practice
– Theorising multi-faith space
– The architecture of multi-faith space
– Design and ‘best practice’ issues in multi-faith space
– Public policy around multi-faith space
– Multi-faith space as sacred space
– The management of multi-faith space
Please indicate whether you would be interested in:
     Contributing a long paper (20 min. presentation)
     Contributing a short paper (10 min. presentation)
     Taking part in a panel
     Contributing to a workshop
     Attendance only
Further information regarding registration and programme will be sent in early October 2011. We currently envisage that there will be no cost for the conference itself, with limited bursaries for meals/refreshments, travel and accommodation, considered on a case-by-case basis.
Researching Religion: Methodological Debates in Anthropology and the Study of Religion
When: October 18-19, 2011
Where: Aarhus Universitet
Website: speakers from abroad include:
  •    Joel Kahn, La Trobe University
  •    Joseph Bulbulia, Victoria University of Wellington
  •    Webb Keane, University of Michigan
  •    Ann Taves, University of California-Santa Barbara
  •    William Waldron, Middlebury College
  •    David Wulff, Wheaton College
  •    Michael Lambek, University of Toronto (keynote speaker)
Local participants will likely include:

  •    Sally Anderson, Educational Anthropology
  •    Martijn van Beek, Anthropology
  •    Jørn Borup, Religion
  •    Nils Bubandt, Anthropology
  •    Marianne Qvortrup Fibiger, Religion
  •    Armin W. Geertz, Religion
  •    Else-Marie Jegindø, Religion
  •    Hans Jørgen Lundager Jensen, Theology and Religion
  •    Jeppe Sinding Jensen, Religion
  •    Maria Louw, Anthropology
  •    Anders Klostergaard Petersen, Religion
  •    Andreas Roepstorff, Anthropology
  •    Marianne Schleicher, Religion
  •    Jesper Sørensen, Religion
  •    Cameron David Warner, Anthropology

For more information, please contact Cameron David Warner,

How an Eerdmans Book is Born (In Sixteen Easy Steps) (via EerdWord)

Does what it says on the tin :)

How an Eerdmans Book is Born (In Sixteen Easy Steps) Rachel Bomberger is the Internet marketing manager at Eerdmans. She loves reading, writing, and accidentally blurting out, "You've just got to read this amazing new book. Oh, wait, sorry, nevermind — I guess you'll have to wait a few more months until it's published." Things have been a little chaotic here at Eerdmans this summer. Eerdfolks have left; … Read More

via EerdWord

The Alternative X-Factor: Churches to publicly rate their clergy

I have just received the following through a mailing list, so I don’t have a link to the source. However, it seems incredibly bizarre. Whilst I can see the potential benefits – I have witnessed some utterly atrocious ministers in my time – it seems like an avenue which could allow certain fundamentalists to organise mass votes to oust more liberal clergy, for example. Just one more example of ‘Rational Choice Theory’ and ‘pick-and-mix’ religion, I think. As every other sector of our society becomes dominated by feedback forms and ‘satisfaction’, it was only a matter of time before churches jumped on the bandwagon…

Is this a good thing? What does it spell for the future? I haven’t decided yet…

Ecumenical News International
News Highlights
17 August 2011

German website allows congregations to rate clergy

Berlin (ENInews)–Does your pastor set a glowing example to his or her flock? Or does the herd tend to drift? A new website launched in Germany allows churchgoers to rate their “shepherd’s” performance on worship, youth work, work with seniors, credibility, and engagement with current issues. “The idea behind Hirtenbarometer [shepherd barometer] is that pastoral work should be and often is qualitative,” one of the website’s founders, Andreas Hahn, said in an email interview. “We wanted to create … an open platform for dialogue between priests and the members of congregations.” [391 words, ENI-11-0432]


Article on ‘New Atheism’ published in the International Journal for the Study of New Religions

With four days to go until thesis submission, I just thought I’d let you know that I have finally had my journal article published! If you’d like any more information, please just get in touch. Here are the details:

Full citation: Cotter, Christopher R., 2011. “Consciousness Raising: The critique, agenda, and inherent precariousness of contemporary Anglophone atheism.” International Journal for the Study of New Religions 2 (1): 77-103.

From the editors preface:

The fourth article, Christopher R. Cotter’s “Consciousness Raising: The
Critique, Agenda, and Inherent Precariousness of Contemporary Anglophone
Atheism,” deals with a completely different area, contemporary atheism
(sometimes called the “new atheism”). The author discusses what agenda
is promoted in opposition to the criticized “religion.” Not only religion, but
also atheism, is changing over time and in specific contexts, and thus different
kinds of agendas are pursued. The author pinpoints certain characteristics
of contemporary atheism, bearing interesting resemblances to the New Age

And the abstract:

Atheism, as a subject in its own right, has received comparatively little scholarly attention in the past. This study begins by unpacking the term ‘atheism’, specifying an appropriate timescale and limiting the scope of the investigation to the work of four key authors. Their critiques of religion are considered and common themes under the appellation ‘dangerous religion’ are discerned. The author then pursues a closer reading of the texts, discerning what agenda is promoted in opposition to the heavily criticised ‘religion’, and discussing contemporary atheism in relation to Enlightenment values. Finally, the author examines why contemporary atheism fails to state its agenda more explicitly. The main players are shown to be individuals, with different foci that cannot be encapsulated by labels such as ‘Enlightenment’. Indications emerge of a ‘consciousness raising’ agenda, resulting from various factors that make contemporary unbelief a particularly organisationally ‘precarious’ phenomenon – a precariousness enhanced by an implicit ambivalent attitude to certain aspects of Christianity, and a correlation with Enlightenment, Romantic and New Age concerns.

The Future of Muslim Chaplaincy in Britain (Conference)

Centre for the Study of Islam in the UK

with the Cardiff Centre for Chaplaincy Studies

 One-Day Conference on

 ‘The Future of Muslim Chaplaincy in Britain’

Thursday 22nd September 2011

Cardiff University, Main Building, Park Place, CARDIFF, CF10 3AT

This one-day conference offers a unique opportunity to hear and discuss the main findings arising from a 28-month research project on the work of Muslims chaplains in Britain, generously funded by the AHRC/ESRC ‘Religion and Society’ Research Programme.  Chaplains, policy-makers, academic researchers, and public-sector managers are warmly invited to attend.  Interactive workshops will consider the key issues in contemporary chaplaincy, and will map future research agendas.  Contributors to the event include:

  •  Maulana Ismail Isakji (HMP Long Lartin)
  • Rehanah Sadiq (NHS University Hospital, Birmingham)
  • Dr Ataullah Siddiqui (Markfield Institute of Higher Education)

Attendance is free of charge, and all refreshments (halal) will be provided.  Parking at the venue is only available in exceptional circumstances (NCP car parks are available in the City Centre).  A taxi from Cardiff Central station is approximately £5.00, or a 20-minute walk. Directions available at:


 10.45-11.15 – Arrival and refreshments

11.20-12.00 – The Muslim Chaplaincy Research Project: Main Findings (Dr Sophie Gilliat-Ray and Maulana Dr M. Mansur Ali, Chaired by Prof Stephen Pattison)


12.00-12.35– Responses and reflections from: Ismail Isakji, Rehanah Sadiq, and Dr Ataullah Siddiqui

12.40-1.00 – Plenary discussion (Chair: Revd Dr Stephen Roberts)

1.00- 2.15 – Lunch, networking and prayers (separate prayer rooms for men and women)

2.15-3.15 – Small group discussions: ‘The Future of Muslim Chaplaincy? Issues for Practice and Research’

3.15-3.35 – Responses from group discussions (Chair: Revd Dr Andrew Todd)

3.40-4.15 – Plenary discussion: ‘Where do we go from here?’ (Chair: Prof Stephen Pattison)

4.15- 4.45 – Tea and departures

Enquiries:  Telephone: 029 20870735.