Shepherding Language: Restoring Faith in Words - May 12-14, 2016

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2016 Western Regional Conference on Christianity and Literature (at California Baptist University, Riverside, Calif.)
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The Modern Languages and Literature Department of California Baptist University is pleased to invite you to the 2016 Western Regional Conference on Christianity and Literature, to be held in Riverside, California, on May 12-14, 2016. Our conference theme is "Shepherding Language: Restoring Faith in Words."

Recent headlines abound decrying the death of academic disciplines traditionally concerned with the care and tending of language. Has a loving and lyrical approach to language become an antiquated notion? Everything from research studies on the relationship between literature and empathy to informal conversations about the power of a good story attest to language's enduring capacity to incite wonder, motivate compassion, or provoke reflection. Words, indeed, serve as the means through which restorative faith is expressed to, explored with, and embraced by the reader.

In the spirit of Christian fellowship and intellectual dialogue, this conference invites papers, panels, creative presentations/readings, workshops, and roundtables regarding representations of faith in literature as well as issues concerning contemporary stewardship of language and literature. We welcome proposals from a variety of perspectives, including but not limited to literature, creative writing, religion, film, art, philosophy, popular culture, and pedagogy and practice.

Our keynote speakers will be Leland Ryken and Marilyn Chandler McEntyre.

Leland Ryken, Professor of English at Wheaton College (IL) since 1968, has written or edited multiple books including How to Read the Bible as Literature (1984), Words of Delight: A Literary Introduction to the Bible (1993), The Christian Imagination: The Practice of Faith in Literature and Writing (2002), The Liberated Imagination: Thinking Christianly About the Arts (2005), and A Complete Handbook of Literary Forms in the Bible (2014). He will deliver his address Thursday evening, May 12.

Marilyn Chandler McEntyre, a professor of medical humanities at the UC-Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program, has published widely, with essays appearing in The Christian Century, Sojourners, Literature and Medicine, Christianity Today, and various other academic trade publications. Her books include Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies (2009), What's in a Phrase? Pausing Where Scripture Gives You Pause (2014), and A Faithful Farewell: Living Your Last Chapter with Love (2015). She will give her talk on Friday evening, May 13.


• Integration of faith in the college classroom
• Lies, truth, and ambiguity in language
• Restorative nature of reading
• Contemporary Christian authors
• Transformative nature of language
• Truth and aesthetics
• Rhetoric and ethics
• Religious expression and creative writing
• Critical theory and the Christian critic
• Fostering appreciation of the written word
• Relationship between words and the Word
• Metaphors of stewardship and caretaking
• Narrative, medicine, and healing
• Faith narratives in popular culture
• The future of literary studies
• Literary studies and vocation
• Literature and technology (digital humanities, etc.)

Abstracts and/or proposals on related topics or on the relationship between Christianity and literature in general are welcome. Undergraduate and graduate scholars are invited to apply. Please submit 250-word abstracts and/or session proposals by March 1, 2016. For more information or to submit an abstract, please contact us at or visit the conference webpage (which is a work in progress…).


Early registration (postmarked/submitted by April 1, 2016):

Professionals: $100
Students: $40

Regular registration (postmarked/submitted April 2, 2016 or after):

Professionals: $110
Students: $50

Friday dinner (May 13): Attendees wishing to enjoy dinner prior to Marilyn Chandler McEntyre's address should include an additional $25. The dinner options will include herb-roasted chicken and ginger-soy glazed tri-tip; vegetarians and those with allergies and other dietary needs should contact organizers to arrange an option to meet those needs.

Saturday roundtable lunch (May 14): The conference will conclude with a lunchtime roundtable on Saturday. Attendees wishing to purchase a box lunch should include an additional $10. Those with special dietary needs should contact organizers to arrange an option to meet those needs.


The conference on Christianity and Literature offers grants of up to $500 to help meet travel expenses and registration fees for graduate students who wish to attend regional CCL meetings. CCL will supply one grant of up to $500 apiece for the annual regional meeting (to be distributed to as many students as the region sees fit). Applicants must be CCL members in good standing and are expected to stay for the full conference that CCL assists them to attend. Students may not receive an award more than twice. Preference is given to dissertation-level students whose research will be most enhanced by conference participation, either in reading a paper in a concurrent CCL session or in having a paper accepted for a CCL seminar.

Submit the following materials to by April 1, 2016:
• A letter, not to exceed 400 words, stating the session in which the student is enrolled and explaining how this session relates to the student's dissertation in progress
• An informational (not evaluative) letter from the student's Director of Graduate Studies or Department Chair providing the date of approval of the student's dissertation topic; the expected date of completion; the date when all other degree requirements were completed; the statement of departmental policy on travel support of graduate students and amount of funding applicant will receive (if any) toward attendance of the meeting for which the student seeks assistance.

To join CCL, please visit

Conference organizers: Laura Veltman ( and Toni Dingman ( Both can be reached via email or at Department of Modern Languages and Literature, California Baptist University, 8432 Magnolia Ave., Riverside, CA 92504.