It's Only Natural(ism)--Southeast Regional Conference on Christianity and Literature (April 9-11, 2015)

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Southeast Regional Conference on Christianity and Literature

Conference Theme--It's Only Natural(ism): Questioning and Responding to the Master Narrative of Late Modernity

April 9-11, 2015
Charleston Southern University
Charleston, South Carolina

Keynote Speaker: Roger Lundin, Wheaton College

Undergraduates thrilling to the bleak despair of Stephen Crane or Thomas Hardy are often excited to discover the existence of naturalism as a philosophy of life and a literary movement of great importance. They are quick to draw parallels to contemporary issues and controversies, for naturalism's reach is clearly not confined to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Christian philosophers such as Alvin Plantinga and Charles Taylor have identified naturalism, the belief that natural phenomena alone can explain human experience, as the defining feature of late modernity, and Plantinga has invoked naturalism's status as a quasi-religion to reframe the supposed debate between science and religion: "there is a science-religion-conflict, all right, but it is between science and naturalism, not science and theistic religion." Philosophical naturalism's influence extends beyond the bounds of literary naturalism or science-and-religion discourse, surfacing even in theories of language, as Charles Taylor and Roger Lundin have argued. Across the disciplines, is naturalism a "master narrative" towards which postmodernity (if such a thing exists) has failed to be incredulous? Is naturalism, more than postmodernism, the contemporary challenge to both religion and science?

We invite papers and proposals that:

• explore the relationship between the natural and the supernatural in literary texts
• discuss depictions of religious belief in literary naturalism proper
• trace the influence of naturalism and/or determinism (including rejections thereof) in literature and theory
• challenge the conventional genealogy of naturalism, finding treatment of similar themes in earlier literature
• explore methodologies (cognitive approaches to literature) that blur the boundaries between naturalism and supernaturalism
• explore Christian theories of language and narrative as alternatives to naturalism
• consider the relationship between literature, religion, and science
• consider the relationship between literature, religion, and the body

Papers pursuing other angles of the relationship between Christianity and literature are also welcome. Please submit 250-word abstracts and/or session proposals to Dr. Carissa Turner Smith at by December 1, 2014. Papers for undergraduate panels are also invited: send undergraduate submissions to Dr. Jonathan Sircy at