About the Conference

In recent decades, the study of religion and the study of literature have similarly turned from emphasis on texts to emphasis on the reception of texts. Scholars in both fields have sought to recreate contexts and audiences by means of which texts should be understood. While this work has invaluably expanded our ability to comprehend wide ranges of religious and literary thought and practice, it has also encouraged a disregard for the very sources that have helped shape the respective fields of study. The idea seems to be that texts have nothing in themselves to reveal but are only what we make of them.  Rather than view texts as objects that merely reflect culture, this forum will consider whether and how texts participate in culture. This calls for discussion of the role of close reading in cultural formation.    

Conference Schedule
Thursday, September 26 at 4 p.m. through Saturday, September 28 at 9 p.m. Central New York Wine Country Tour (optional) on Sunday, September 29 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

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Showcasing the food and wine of Central New York

Part of the "Green Engage" Initiative

The Syracuse Crowne Plaza Hotel is proud to host the Le Moyne College Religion and Literature Forum. As part of the Crowne Plaza brand standard the Hotel is active in a company wide initiative called “Green Engage.” This program ensures that properties reduce and minimize their carbon footprints. This is done by using energy saving techniques in the guestrooms and conference center along with selective use of environmentally friendly cleaning supplies and responsible waste removal practices. This project has been paramount in improving not only the downtown core of Syracuse, but also the city's surrounding neighborhoods.

Keynote Speakers:

Theology as a Kind of Reading
Charles Mathewes
Carolyn M. Barbour Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia

Charles Mathewes is the author of Evil and the Augustinian Tradition and A Theology of Public Life, both with Cambridge University Press; Understanding Religious Ethics from Wiley-Blackwell; and The Republic of Grace, from Eerdmans. From 2006 to 2010, he was Editor of The Journal of the American Academy of Religion, the flagship journal in the field of religious studies, and was the inaugural Director of the Virginia Center for the Study of Religion. He serves on the House of Bishops Theology Committee of the Episcopal Church, and from 2011 until 2014 he is the Chair of the Committee on the Future of Christian Ethics for the Society of Christian Ethics.
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‘Faith Loses Its Merit Where Human Reason Supplies Proof’

Steven Justice
Professor of English at the University of Mississippi

Steven Justice is the author of Writing and Rebellion: England in 1381 (University of California Press, 1994), which received the 1995 Modern Language Association Prize for Best First Book. His recent essays include “Did the Middle Ages Believe in their Miracles?” (Representations, 2008), “Who Stole Robertson?” (PMLA, 2009), and “Eucharistic Miracle and Eucharistic Doubt” (Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, 2012).
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Who is Saadi? Emerson and Thoreau on Islamic Mysticisms
Branka Arsic Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University

Branka Arsic is the author of On Leaving: A Reading in Emerson (Harvard University Press, 2010), and a book on Herman Melville entitled Passive Constitutions, or, 71⁄2 Times Bartleby (Stanford University Press, 2007). She has co-edited (with Cary Wolfe) a collection of essays on Ralph Waldo Emerson entitled The Other Emerson: New Approaches, Divergent Paths (University of Minnesota Press, 2010).
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A Saint Speaks Up: Angelic Texting in the Early Middle Ages
Albrecht Diem
Associate Professor of History in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University

Albrecht Diem studied history and German literature at the universities of Düsseldorf, Tübingen, and Utrecht. After receiving his doctorate from the University of Utrecht in 2000, he held teaching appointments and research fellowships at the Universities of Utrecht, Groningen, and Nijmegen; at the Pontifical Institute for Mediaeval Studies in Toronto; and at the Institute for Medieval Research at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna. Diem specializes in the history of late antiquity and the early Middle Ages. He has published Das Monastische Experiment (Münster: Lit-Verlag, 2005), a study of the late antique and early medieval monastic discourse on chastity and sexuality, and several articles on early medieval church history; the history of monasticism, gender and sexuality; and the history of late medieval pastoral care. Currently he is working on a monograph tentatively entitled
The Politics of the Past in Early Medieval Monasticism.
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Thoreau: Awaking to an Answered Question
Mitchell Breitwieser
Professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley

Mitchell Breitwieser teaches American literature at Berkeley. He is the author of Cotton Mather and Benjamin Franklin: The Price of Representative Personality (Cambridge University Press, 1984), American Puritanism and the Defense of Mourning: Religion, Grief, and Ethnography in Mary White Rowlandson’s Captivity Narrative (University of Wisconsin Press, 1990), and National Melancholy: Mourning and Opportunity in Classic American Literature (Stanford University Press, 2007). His current project is entitled The Life and Times of Harry Lime: Disappointment and Enigma in Graham Greene’s The Third Man.
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With a special reading and group discussion of Finnegans Wake led by John Bishop, University of California, Berkeley