CFP: [Graduate] Challenging Faith: Intersections of Belief and Doubt in Literature, Composition, and the Profession

full name / name of organization: 
Matt Hurwitz
contact email: 

Challenging Faith: Intersections of Belief and Doubt in Literature,
Composition, and the Profession
A graduate conference hosted by the University of New Hampshire English
Graduate Organization
March 7-8, 2008
University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH, US

Keynote speakers TBA

        This graduate conference will explore the topic of faith
(understood in its broadest sense), how that topic has evolved, and how
it is being discussed within the disciplines of English. We seek to cover
the following areas of inquiry, though these questions are intended to
spur and not limit thinking on the subject of faith:

· (Re)defining faith. What is “faith”? What forces produce the
effect that we could call faith, in all its guises (religious, aesthetic,
philosophical, scientific, political, pedagogical, social)?
Is “faithlessness,” in any sense of the term, even possible?
· Political, social and cultural impact of faith. How is faith
manipulated as a political tool? Is it possible to think of faith as
somehow outside or even opposed to the secular? How do articles of faith
drive various cultural narratives, narratives of the nation, of gender,
of sexuality, of race, of class? How is faith constructed by culture?
What happens when irreconcilable versions of faith interact across
cultural boundaries, or when different manifestations of faith contradict
one another within a cultural group?
· Faith in the discipline of English. What has happened to English
scholars’ faith in their social function? Do we have faith or do we want
to have faith in the efficacy of scholarship and teaching in enacting
political change? Do we have faith that universities and colleges are the
best places to prepare students for reading and writing outside of
academia? Do we have faith that English and the humanities will remain
relevant in the contemporary university? How can the work of English
scholars retain its status alongside the sciences or business?
· Faith in theory. Is it fitting to discuss theory in terms of
faith? What should we make of claims that theory is “dead” or that we are
post-theory? Has our faith in theory indeed waned?
· Faith in literature. Can literary texts help us to understand the
function of faith/faithlessness in culture?
What sorts of faiths have influenced the development of literary forms?
What does one need to believe in order to invest in literature’s cultural
capital? What cultural work does faith perform, and what is the role of
literary texts in this activity? How does literature support, inform, or
reify faith? How does literature critique, challenge, or undermine faith?
How might readerly faith change across different historical periods and
in different cultural contexts? How does literature help us understand
questions of specifically religious faith? How does literature encode,
empower, or critique the boundaries among various registers of faith
(religious, political, aesthetic, etc.)?
· Faith in teaching. Do we have faith in English courses such as
literary surveys and first-year composition? How have the many challenges
to our faith in the traditional canons changed how we study and teach
literary texts? Do we believe that our methods of teaching argument and
persuasion can accommodate or respond effectively to what is practiced in
contemporary political discourse? Do we believe that rhetorical analysis
of political discourse can lead to change? Do we have faith that teaching
and assigning traditional essays will equip students to read and write in
a variety of environments, including electronic and networked ones? Do we
believe that technology will change reading and writing as we know it? Do
we believe in the gradual shift from traditional aesthetic or
belletristic writing toward technical and discipline-specific writing? Do
we have faith in standards and outcomes in English?
Submission deadline: 12:00 noon, Saturday, December 1, 2007

        We seek proposals for 20-minute individual presentations or 60-
minute group panels. There is no limit to the number of presenters in a
group panel proposal; however, your group’s presentation will be limited
to 60 minutes. We will group individuals into 60-minute three-speaker
        To submit a proposal, please email with the
subject line “Faith conference proposal.” On your proposal’s cover
page, include the title of your proposal, individual titles for each
presentation in the group (if applicable) and contact information for
each speaker. Contact information should include name, university
affiliation, mailing address, daytime phone number and email address. In
the proposal, please include only your title, proposal type (individual
or group) and proposal itself. To aid the blind selection process, do not
include any identifying or contact information on your attached proposal.
Attach both the cover page and the proposal to the email using
either .doc or .rtf format.
        Word limit for individual presentations: 500 words
        Word limit for group panels: 800 words

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Received on Wed Sep 19 2007 - 12:42:27 EDT