Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Cfp: "Uncanny Homecomings: Narrative Structures, Existential Questions, Theological Visions," University of Iowa, August 26-28, 2011.

The 2011 Religion, Literature and the Arts conference encourages participants to investigate the subject of home and homecoming. Poets and philosophers have long identified the human yearning to find a geographic and emotional environment that allows for a feeling of integration, where we understand our place in the greater whole. If we linger with this notion, however, the paradoxical nature of our desire for homecoming emerges: the home that we remember from our past is not the place that we are ever able to find in our present, and the places that we find or create in our present that have an aura of "home" are frequently disconcerting in their ability to provide comfort. There is something unheimlich in returning home, a lesson learned by individuals from Odysseus or the Prodigal Son in the Western tradition to those facing crises of homecoming in 21st century Palestine or Algeria.

Several different and helpful frames emerge as ways of investigating our longing for home. Narrative structures reveal the stories that shape and alter our trajectories, helping us to find a home in and through language, to root ourselves in a plot of land. Existential questions disclose the historical, philosophical, political, psychological and temporal desire for locating ourselves in a home. Theological visions incorporate the depth dimension of the human desire for integration within the rich tapestry of religious narratives that frame our cycles of exile and return.

Papers can speak about a particular historical figure or group, event, practice, text or work of art, reflecting on its capacity to disclose the provocative problem of homecoming in relation to human well-being. They can reflect on the nature, origin and effects of this desire in human history, using resources from any of the disciplines represented at the conference, and discussing how particular religious or secular communities have understood, interpreted, or reused myths, symbols or ideas about homecoming. Session papers should be 20 minutes long, with 10 minutes reserved for questions and answers. Please submit your abstract into the most appropriate of the following categories: Religious Studies, Literature, Art and Art History, Popular Culture, Postcolonial Approaches.

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