Seeking a Postmodern God: Representations of the Absent Center in Contemporary Writing (9/30/09; Montreal 4/7-11/10)

full name / name of organization: 
Magdalena Maczynska & Christopher K. Coffman / NeMLA

The 41st Convention of the Northeast Modern Language Association

Montreal, Quebec - Hilton Bonaventure

7-11 April 2010

Recent studies such as God Without Being by Jean-Luc Marion, After God by Mark Taylor, and After the Death of God by John Caputo and Gianni Vattimo point towards a contemporary desire to articulate new ways of understanding divinity after post-structuralism. One of the central questions of such studies may be posed in the following manner: how can we imagine absolute alterity in a world without absolutes? This panel will look at contemporary writing that grapples with the elusive concept of the numinous by deconstructing old ontological models of "god" and proposing new directions for twenty-first century discourse about the divine.

We seek 20-minute papers that offer readings of exemplary literary texts, but we are also open to papers that address this issue from a theoretical standpoint and aim to identify, diagnose, and/or evaluate the causes, characteristics, and implications of a non-foundational theology.

Relevant questions include, but are by no means limited to, the following:
- How can we reconceive the sacred?
-What spiritual experience, or communion, is available to the believer in the absence of an ontologically positive transcendent other?
-What concerns are attendant upon the unsettling of traditional formulations of the divine?
-What challenges does the project of post-structural religious thought face, from the perspective of either traditional religious discourse or post-structuralism itself?
-Does a resistance to the elevation of religious texts amount to desacralization or a celebration of textual hermeneutics in general?
-What may be said of post-secular literature, how does it problematize the critical effort, and what promise does it hold for literary study and thought?

Please submit 250-word paper proposals to panel organizers Magdalena Maczynska (Marymount Manhattan College) at and Christopher K. Coffman (Boston U) at no later than 30 September 2009.

Please include with your abstract:

Name, Title, and Affiliation
Email address
Postal address
Telephone number
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A/V requirements (if any; $10 handling fee)

The conference will feature approximately 350 sessions, as well as dynamic speakers and cultural events. Details and the complete Call for Papers for the 2010 Convention will be posted in June 2009 at

Interested participants may submit abstracts to more than one NeMLA session; however panelists can only present one paper (panel or seminar). Convention participants may present a paper at a panel and also present at a creative session or participate in a roundtable.

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