The Writing of Spiritual Crisis and Conversion

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American Comparative Literature Association (March 29-April 1, 2012)
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Spiritual conversion is truly one of the most radical changes one can experience or live through. Pierre Hadot emphasizes the dual nature of conversion: both as repetition – as a re-birth and the reiteration of the original event on which the religion we convert to is based – and as a new creation – as a radical rupture from what is familiar, depending on some sort of illumination that can make the soul embark on a new path.

The singularity and eeriness of such an experience – that implies a certain quantity of crises and ruptures – somehow does not go unaccounted or untold. Literature is a choice receptacle for subsequent accounts of these experiences in existential transformation; it is a mode of expression and of exception, where one can attempt to translate these experiences into stories and narratives while trying to make sense out of them.

This panel invites papers that explore the relationship between the spiritual phenomena of conversion (may it be religious, philosophical, linguistic, cultural, etc.) and the spiritual reality of literature in itself, which is not only a receptacle, but also a medium and a particular mode of thought.

Papers could address (but are not restricted to):
- the process of self-projection conveyed by imagination in reading
- literature as a performative mechanism and its powers of transformation, rupture and conversion
- the spiritual dialectics of writing and reading
- the problem of the genre in the writing of conversion
- literature and the inexpressible of the mystics.

Please submit individual paper proposals directly to the ACLA website by November 1st, 2011: (select "The Writing of Spiritual Crisis and Conversion" from the seminar drop-down menu).