Can Christianity be postsecular? Professions of faith and doubt in contemporary American fiction

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Pete Rorabaugh/SAMLA 2011/SCCL Panel (Deadline: May 1, 2011)
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SAMLA 2011/Southern Conference on Christianity and Literature Panel

The term "postsecular" appears in the fields of political theory, sociology, and literature from time to time to describe a resistance to the narrative of secularization. Scholars defining postsecular approaches attend to the complex interactions between the empirical skepticism of the academy and the new religious expression that occurs in a postmodern-inflected world. John McClure has defined the implications of postsecular religious expression contemporary American literature. In Partial Faiths: Postsecular Fiction in the Age of Morrison and Pynchon, McClure writes that the authors in his study "seek at once to evaluate the culturally dominant modes of postsecular innovation and to develop their own religiously inflected alternatives to secularism."

This session will explore examples or critiques of the term "postsecular" in the field of contemporary American fiction. Papers presented in this panel may address any of the following questions: Has the literary expression of Christianity undergone revision in contemporary American fiction since 1950? How do depictions of Christian characters and environments bear the influence of postmodern suspicion or theology? How do those same depictions provide evidence of the postsecular world hoped for or described by William Connolly, Jurgan Habermas, and John McClure? Or, more critically, are the Christian practices and attitudes depicted in contemporary American novels unaffected by postmodern attitudes in popular culture or academia; is "postsecular" discourse irrelevant to the field of Christianity and American fiction?

For a richer discussion of the topic and to share ideas, contact Pete Rorabaugh on Twitter: @allistelling . Send proposals of 300-500 words as MS Word documents or via Google Docs by May 1, 2011 to Pete Rorabaugh, Georgia Institute of Technology, email: