CFP: [Graduate] Religion, Secularism and Nationhood, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, April 3-4 2009

full name / name of organization: 
British Modernities Group
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Call for Papers

Religion, Secularism and Nationhood
April 3-4, 2009
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The British Modernities Group, in conjunction with the University of Illinois Unit for Criticism and
Interpretive Theory and the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities, invites submissions
from diverse disciplinary backgrounds and methodological orientations for our annual graduate
student conference, this year themed “Religion, Secularism and Nationhood.” The conference will
open with a keynote address by Gauri Viswanathan of Columbia University.

In response to the changing articulations of religious subjectivity and religious communities in
the so-called post-secular world, it is crucial to heed the double aspect of religion as a
“scrupulous observance,” in Jean-Luc Nancy’s words, and as the means of social cohesion. As a
wide range of scholars have suggested, this “religious turn” also calls for critical interventions in
narratives of secularization and nationhood. Edward Said’s deployment of “secularism” as an
epistemological category to critique nationalism and Benedict Anderson’s comparison of national
ceremonies and religious rituals emphasize ties between religion, secularism and nationhood.
This graduate conference will engage this critical trend by focusing on how religious
controversies circumscribe national identity in "Greater Britain" (including transnational and
international formations) in textual cultural production from the eighteenth century to the
present moment. It will also investigate religion’s central role in colonial expansion and in
establishing and questioning cultural difference.

Possible topics for consideration include but are not limited to:
• secularization, progress and modernity
• religion, nationalism and community
• pluralism and tolerance
• knowledge and faith
• empire and the unassimilable “Other”
• political theology and public religions
• alternative religious histories
• conversion, historicity and secrecy

This plenary-style conference is designed to facilitate dialogue between panels, participants, and
attendees. To that end, panelists are strongly encouraged to attend the full conference,
scheduled late Friday and all day Saturday. Presenters will be expected to submit their papers to
their panel’s faculty respondent by March 14, 2009.

Please send 300-word abstracts for individual 15-minute papers to
The deadline for abstract submissions is February 15, 2009. Accepted applicants will be notified
by February 20, 2009. In the body of the e-mail, please include the following information:
name, university and departmental affiliation(s), level of graduate study, and title of paper.

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Received on Sat Dec 13 2008 - 20:30:34 EST