Writing Religion: BSECS Roundtable 3rd-5th January 2013, Oxford UK

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British Society for Eighteenth Century Studies

Writing Religion: Religious Purpose in Eighteenth Century Literature

British Society of Eighteenth Century Studies Annual Conference
3rd-5th January 2013, St Hugh's College Oxford

In reclaiming the eighteenth century as an era of serious engagement with a whole spectrum of religious concerns, recent critics have looked to incorporate both canonical and little-known texts within their new portrayal of eighteenth century society, culture, and literature. As a consequence, our understanding of the period is undoubtedly richer. Yet in pursuit of these examples of religiosity, such scholarship has frequently beaten a retreat from the customary business of literary criticism: attention to the form, tone, language, genre, textuality and voice of eighteenth-century texts.

This roundtable session encourages participants to ask new questions of eighteenth century texts which might broadly be categorised as 'religious' by paying attention to precisely these features. In particular, it seeks to generate discussion of central 'literary' significance - authority, intention and purposiveness - as they emerge within the special circumstances and contexts surrounding the creation of religious writing. Furthermore, it hopes to identify points of connection and disjunction between such writing and the wider field of literary production, and to ask: i) what, if anything, makes religious writing unique? And, ii) what can we learn from an investigation of religious writing that might influence our analysis of literary texts more broadly?

This session will take the form of a roundtable with six participants, each of whom will be asked to speak for five minutes. In order to encourage discussion we hope to pre-circulate each paper before the start of the conference.

For further information, including some suggested topics for exploration, please see: http://writingandreligion.wordpress.com/

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

Abstracts of 200 words or fewer should be submitted by 20th September 2012 to laura.davies@regents.ox.ac.uk