Melville and Religious Expereince (ALA 1/5/10; 5/27-30/10)

full name / name of organization: 
Brian Yothers
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Melville and Religious Experience
The Melville Society Panel
American Literature Association, San Francisco
May 27-30, 2010
Deadline: January 5, 2010

Few writers have engaged more subtly or more broadly with the subject of religious experience than Melville. On both a cognitive and an affective level, Melville's work is in dialogue with a staggering range of religious traditions. This panel invites papers on the topic of Melville's representations of religious experience from throughout his career, from Typee to his late poetry and Billy Budd. How does Melville represent belief, unbelief, and tensions and accommodations between the two? How do we understand Melville's treatment of Judaism, Christianity (in its Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox varieties), Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, and/or the indigenous faiths of the South Pacific? Within the context of American Protestant religious culture, what roles do Calvinism, Arminianism, Unitarianism, Methodism, or the faiths of religious communities like the Quakers, the Dunkers, the Mormons, the Adventists, or the Shakers play in Melville's art? How does Melville negotiate the relationship between the universal and the particular in his treatment of religious experience? To what degree is Melville's representation of religious experience fluid over the course of his career? To what degree does his religious thought remain consistent?

Send 300-500 word abstracts to Brian Yothers at by January 5, 2010. Please include abstracts in the body of the email and as an attachment.