Teaching Christian Drama to Biblically Illiterate (and Semi-Literate) Audiences

deadline for submissions: 
October 15, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Comparative Drama Conference-Orlando, Florida
contact email: 

Western civilization is deeply rooted in Judeo-Christian tradition and ideology, which goes a long way in explaining why the Bible is a shadow text on nearly every college literature syllabus. The heritage of the so-called “the book of books” spans the full historical spectrum of English writing, from its earliest specimens up to its most recent. For centuries, the bible offered up a common vocabulary and shared lens through which American college professors and their students could think and talk about literary history and culture.


That is, until now. While there are still more self-identifying Christians living in the United States than in any other country, a 2015 Pew Report showed that people are leaving the flock in droves. This, coupled with the rise of secularism, increased religious diversity and growing cultural ambivalence toward organized religion, puts instructors of English and American dramatic literature in the challenging but simultaneously invigorating position of being at the forefront of pedagogical innovation and disciplinary evolution and change. What does it mean when longstanding members of the English-language literary canon are deemed inaccessible by modern readers due to their unfamiliar religious content? How do we teach Christian-themed drama (spanning from medieval mystery plays and Doctor Faustus to Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral and Jesus Christ Superstar) in an era where biblical literacy can no longer be an assumed prerequisite?


This panel seeks abstracts for 15-minute papers/presentations that offer up engaging and portable strategies for teaching Christian drama to students whose knowledge of biblical plotlines, characters, themes and issues is either limited or non-existent.    

 Submit your 250-word abstract to jmathews@rollins.edu by October 15.



43rd Comparative Drama Conference

April 4-6, 2019

Orlando, Florida

The Comparative Drama Conference is an international, interdisciplinary conference founded by Dr. Karelisa Hartigan at the University of Florida in 1977. Every year, approximately 175 scholars are invited to present and discuss their work in the field of drama and 2 new plays receive a staged reading. The conference draws participants from both the Humanities and the Arts. The papers delivered range over the entire field of theatre research and production. Over the past 40 years, participants have come from 32 nations and all 50 states.