April 17, 2010
Re-Writing Bible: Devotion, Diatribe and Dialogue
CALL FOR PAPERS
Kei Miller, Sara Maitland and Michelene Wandor.
“…there is no reading of a work which is not also a ‘re-writing’.”
– Terry Eagleton
A recent exhibition at the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art consisted of a bible, laid open alongside a supply of pens, with the invitation, “If you feel you’ve been excluded from the Bible, please feel free to find a way to write yourself back in.” The comments scribbled in the margins—and the very notion of ‘writing in the Bible’—became the subject of a widespread controversy, resulting in the gallery’s decision to place this bible inside a perspex cube, effectively sealing it off and protecting it from what might be deemed ‘undesirable’ commentary. Visitors were still invited to write comments, but now they were written on sheets of paper that were then selected by gallery staff and inserted between the bible’s pages.
In light of this very present debate, Re-Writing the Bible: Devotion, Diatribe and Dialogue invites poets, writers, and scholars to engage with interdisciplinary questions surrounding the phenomena of retellings or revisions of Bible in creative writing. These retellings have a heritage that, arguably, starts within the books of the Bible itself and stretches across many literatures and traditions; poets and writers in every age filter biblical themes and images through the
focus of their own period and practice. Dante, Milton, Bunyan, Blake, Yeats, Owen, H.D, Plath, Kinsella, Hill; the list is long, diverse, and continues to grow.
This symposium asks why contemporary writers have chosen to rework this particular source text, and what stances they have taken towards it: faithful, using creative writing as a means of prayerful reflection or theological exegesis? Or furious, a railing against the Bible’s injustices and absences? Or a mixture of both, a sometimes difficult, sometimes delightful kind of dialogue? If every reading is also a re-writing, then it follows that every re-writing is also a reading, and for this reason many biblical scholars are fascinated by the literary ‘afterlives’ of the scriptures, the ways in which the Bible is sustained by creative imaginations in cultural settings and times very distant from its own writing and compilation.
We are seeking 20-minute papers from a variety of disciplines and perspectives, including but not limited to: literature, theology, biblical studies, critical and cultural theory, history, politics, and so on. We will consider papers on all forms of ‘creative writing’: poetry, novel, short story, sermon, liturgy, prayers, songs, political writing, theatre, and so on. Our emphasis is on twentieth and twenty-first century works, but we will also consider abstracts on rewritings from other periods. We would be particularly interested in papers looking at spaces that often go unexplored by research in retelling and revisioning, such as biblical romance novels, evangelical speculative fiction, biblical archetypes in autobiography, contemporary liturgy, or popular music. There is the possibility that proceedings will be published.
Please send abstracts (approx. 200 words) to email@example.com, by no later than 19th April 201