College Theology SocietyServing Church and Academy Since 1954

The Arts, Media, Literature, and Religion

2022 Call for Papers

Charles Gillespie, Sacred Heart University (CT)

Callie Tabor, Emory University (GA)

The Arts, Media, Literature and Religion (AMLR) section of the College Theology Society cordially invites proposals. The 2022 convention theme—“Why We Can’t Wait”: Racism and the Church—invites us to reconsider the persistent evil of racism through projects that address how works of art, literature, and media expand and challenge theological reflection. The section also warmly welcomes proposals that take more systematic, historical, theoretical, or practical approaches to religious aesthetics.


Non-specialists in the study of the arts, media, literature or religion and theology are encouraged to view this section as an opportunity to stretch their interpretive vistas. Graduate students and newer members of the CTS have found a warm reception in our section.


Suggested topics include, but are by no means limited to:


  • ·       Reflecting on race and racism in America in the form of a letter to her two sons, Imani Perry writes that among the failures of racism is that, “people want to truncate you,” limiting complex humanity to stereotype (Breathe: A Letter to My Sons). How does art offer a creative pathway for people of color to resist such “truncation,” or conversely, reinforce such truncation?


  • ·       In After Whiteness, Willie Jennings writes of how “colonial design” has shaped theological education, warping human attention and forcing affection for a white intellectual and aesthetic regime. We invite engagements with how the built environment of church and educational buildings, artwork, and the performance of classroom or liturgical spaces might better embrace the affections without forcing them into this colonial design. This topic may lend itself well to the discussion or enactment of embodied pedagogy, and alternate formats to the “traditional” conference paper.


  • ·       Are there theological resources for addressing systemic racism perpetuated online through memes, social media, and popular culture?


  • ·       In what ways have works in theological aesthetics perpetuated Eurocentrism? In what ways have works in theological aesthetics disrupted whiteness? In particular we invite reflections on the intersection of beauty and justice, especially those inspired by the turn to theological aesthetics in Latinx theology (e.g. Roberto Goizueta, Cecilia González-Andrieu, Alejandro García-Rivera, Michelle Gonzalez Maldonado, Nichole Flores among others).


  • ·       How do debates about public art—particularly about monuments that celebrate the achievements of colonizers and slaveholders—intersect with the life of the church?


  • ·       How can we better center and celebrate the contribution of Black, Indigenous, AAPI, and Latinx artists, musicians, and writers to the richness of the church’s worship and imagination?


Special Collaborative Session: With Theology, Ecology, and Natural Science, we also aim to co-sponsor a session on afro-futurism and science fiction. How might imaginary worlds help us reflect on racism, ecology, and the future of the church? Projects engaging the work of authors such Samuel Delaney, NK Jemisin, and Octavia Butler are particularly welcome. Projects that engage afrofuturist and sci-fi themes in the visual arts and film are also welcome.


Please e-mail your 200-300 word abstract to BOTH AND by December 15, 2021. In your proposal, please include the title of your project, your name, institutional affiliation, and any audio/visual needs. Feel welcome to contact Charles Gillespie and Callie Tabor at the above addresses with any questions or concerns.

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