2010. augusztus 20.

The Power of the Word: Poetry, Theology and Life

An International Conference, 17-18 June 2011

Heythrop College, University of London

This conference is organized by Heythrop College and the Institute of
English Studies, University of London.

Keynote Speakers: Professor Gianni Vattimo (University of Turin),
Professor Helen Wilcox (University of Bangor), Professor M. Paul
Gallagher (Gregorian University, Rome), Professor Paul Fiddes
(University of Oxford), tba.
Other invited speakers include: Professor John Took (UCL), Professor Jay
Parini (Middlebury College, Vermont), Prof. Georg Langenhorst
(University of Augsburg), Olivier-Thomas Venard (Professor Ecole
Biblique, Jerusalem), Dr Antonio Spadaro (Gregorian University, Rome),
Dr Stefano Maria Casella (IULM University, Milan), Dr Florian Mussgnug
Conference organizers: David Lonsdale (Heythrop College, University of
London) and Dr Francesca Bugliani Knox (Heythrop College, University of
London): f.knox@heythrop.ac.uk; d.lonsdale@heythrop.ac.uk
Conference committee: Professor John Took (UCL), Dr Anna Abram (Heythrop
College), Dr Antonio Spadaro (Gregorian University, Rome), Dr James
Sweeney (Heythrop College), David Lonsdale (Heythrop College), Dr
Francesca Bugliani Knox (Heythrop College), Dr Michael Kirwan (Heythrop

Religion has always been part of Western literary traditions. Many
canonical literary texts engage extensively with theology and religious
faith and practice, and theological and spiritual writers make liberal
use of literary genres, tropes and strategies. Recent work in philosophy
of religion, theology, the study of religions and literary criticism has
once again brought to the fore issues which arise when literature,
faith, theology and life meet, whether in harmony or in conflict. This
international conference aims to:
 foster a dialogue among scholars in theology, philosophy, spirituality
and literature and between these and creative writers;
 discuss the ‘truth’ of poetry and the ‘truth’ of theology in relation
to each other;  reassess the idea of poetry as a criticism of life; 
discuss the relationship between faith, theology and the creative
imagination through an
examination of theoretical issues and the study of specific texts; 
examine the importance of poetry for personal and social identity,
social cohesion and relations
between faiths and cultures.
The organisers invite scholars currently working in the subject field to
offer panel papers (30 minutes plus 10 minutes discussion) to address
the following titles and themes. Please email
abstracts of 500 words max. by Friday 14 October 2010 to:
f.knox@heythrop.ac.uk and d.lonsdale@heythrop.ac.uk
Titles and themes of panels:
1. Why poetry matters
 The activity of reading  ‘Tolle, lege’: reading as transformative 
Poetry and the development of the reader  The purpose and value of
religious poetry  Is religiously committed literary criticism possible,
desirable, necessary?  Specific writers and texts
2. Poetry, faith, religion and theology
 Faith and the poet  Poetry and poets in theological perspective 
Religious experience and the experience of poetry  Devotional poetry 
What makes a work of poetry theologically or religiously significant or
relevant?  Metaphor, symbol, faith and theology  Is the writer/poet as
such theologically significant?  Specific writers and texts
3. Poetry and the mystical
 Relationships between mysticism and poetry  Mystical poetry  Poets
as mystics, mystics as poets  Specific writers and texts
4. Imagination, faith and theology
 The place of imagination in religion, faith, theology, spirituality 
The ‘sacramental imagination’; poetry as sacramental  Reason and
imagination in faith and theology  Theology, spirituality and the
poetic imagination
 Specific writers and texts
5. Poetry and sacred texts
 ‘Secular’ and ‘sacred’ poetic texts  ‘Secular’ poetry and sacred
texts  Specific writers and texts
6. Poetry and society
 Does poetry make anything happen?  Poetry, literary criticism and
ethics  Poetry and politics  Specific writers and texts

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