Thinking the Sacred Today

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Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
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Call for Papers

Panel on "Thinking the Sacred Today"

41st Anniversary Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
April 7-11, 2010
Montreal, Quebec - Hilton Bonaventure

The western twentieth century has been marked by a process of secularization that has corroded or at least radically transformed some of the traditional foundations, values and institutions proper to western societies. Without adopting a nostalgic point of view towards Christian tradition, we still have to admit that this decay leaves a relative emptiness – a moral, existential, spiritual metaphysical emptiness – where before was a sphere of the sacred allowing particular subjects to position themselves in regards to what may be called the universal. A clear symptom of this emptiness might be the immense popularity of Paolo Coelho, James Redfield, William Paul Young, among many others, whose books – turned bestsellers – aim to fill a spiritual void and invest life with a renewed meaning of sorts.
This weathering of traditional contents of the sacred inevitably leaves some remains, residues or traces that may serve as clues or symptoms and raise questions of great importance in the understanding of the sacred today. The interpretation of these clues can therefore help us achieve a better understanding of how the notion of the sacred has not only been transformed, but also how it continues to manifest itself in western literature and modern culture in general. Indeed, in a process that aims to diagnose this spiritual "malaise" of the past fifty years, these questions are no doubt central.
This panel seeks to discuss these remains of spirituality – that is, what is left of the sacred, how it has been reorganized in modern literary or theoretical discourse, and finally, in which new forms it is thought and how it has been affecting our experience in the last and the present centuries' literature.
Please send 250-500 words abstracts to Sara Danièle Bélanger M. ( by Sept. 30, 2009.

Please include with your abstract:
Name and Affiliation
Email address
Postal address
Telephone number
A/V requirements (if any; $10 handling fee)

The 41st Annual Convention 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:

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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