Divinity and the Supernatural in Literature at the Millennium

deadline for submissions: 
January 25, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Association des Étudiant(e)s Gradué(e)s en Littérature Anglaise de l'Université Laval
contact email: 

Much attention has been given to recent American studies showing a dramatic increase in the numbers of those who distance themselves from religious affiliation. Here in Quebec, it is approximately 50 years since the Quiet Revolution, a political movement that wrested control over health and education from the Catholic Church to a secular government. Today in Montreal, fewer than 4% of the population regularly attends mass, a trend that echoes the situation in Europe (1). Simultaneously, there is a growing interest in non-denominational spirituality as well as narratives that feature unreal elements, such as we see in fantasy, magic realism, or science fiction, suggesting that the supernatural still maintains a strong draw on some level for many, although perhaps in a new way.


In addition to its foundational role in delineating doctrine within organized religion, literature has always been a medium for challenging dominant narratives, exploring philosophical questions, and attempting to define the zeitgeist. In this spirit, the Université Laval's Graduate Conference for English Literature proposes to provide a welcoming environment for graduate student presentations that inquire into the state of the belief in the supernatural in our culture as it is presented in literature. We are open to a range of theoretical and critical approaches, as well as other forms of narrative media. Presentations will be 15-20 minutes, in French or English. Suggested topics include but are not limited to:


  • the poetics of religious representation in literature

  • how the metaphysical is understood in societies that privilege scientific “ways of knowing”

  • the modern miracle: how are they identified and interpreted?

  • links and overlap between magic and religion

  • nations’ historical relationships with a particular institutionalized religion (Ireland, for example) and how that has evolved over time

  • how questions about religion, secularization, or the supernatural/metaphysical are approached in YA literature or coming-of-age stories

  • religious representation in Quebecois literature

  • religion’s role for minority or oppressed peoples, such as: African American (ante- or post-bellum), Caribbean, African, First Nations and Indigenous, Immigrants

  • Religious fundamentalism, ideology, and literary representation

  • the occult, Satanism, witchcraft (example: The Scarlet Letter, The Crucible)

  • Critical contemporary perspectives on now-antiquated ideas presented in older texts

  • Myth-making: its form and function

  • Morality and ethics of care


The conference will be held on March 22-23, 2019 on the UL campus. We invite graduate students (MA, PhD, as well as advanced undergraduates) from various disciplines (Literature, Translation Studies, Film Studies, Cultural Studies, Indigenous Studies, History, etc.) to submit proposals. Visit the website for information on post-conference publishing opportunities. Please submit an abstract of 250 words and a biography of 50 words to: aeglea.ulaval@gmail.com. Include your name, affiliation and degree program, e-mail address, equipment needs, as well as the title of your presentation and upload the document as both PDF and Word attachments. The deadline for proposals is Friday January 11, 2019. You will be informed of our decision by February 1, 2019.



Hashtag: #LitConUL2019  


(1) Taken from “Why Francophone Canada is so post-Catholic a place.” The Economist, Sept 23, 2016here