Stadt: Utrecht, Niederlande

Frist: 2016-09-15

Beginn: 2017-07-06

Ende: 2017-07-09


Panel / Session at the Annual Meeting of the American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA), Universiteit Utrecht, July 6th – 9th 2017

In times of crisis and political, aesthetic and epistemological disorientation, almost always new religions begin to emerge, and old religious teachings are taken out of their traditional contexts, reappropriated and recombined with other teachings. These transplantations, hybridizations, recrudescences and redevelopments can become an ingredient, or at least a catalyst, of new cultural and literary developments. Recontextualized or refurbished articles of faith which formerly have only influenced marginalized sections of society may thus acquire a new importance because they provide the means by which to engage with new political, scientific and aesthetic challenges. As a result, novel configurations of sense are introduced into hegemonic discourse and literary history.

In our seminar, we would like to investigate this phenomenon throughout history, without limiting ourselves to a specific epoch. We are just as interested in the interminglings of Greco-Roman religions and the Judeo-Christian heritage as in conglomerations between Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, and Buddhism or in the interventions of marginalized religious movements in cultural life, be they Gnostics, Cathars, Freemasons or acolytes of Wicca.

A good example of these hybridizations is the work of the baroque philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz: in his writings, he merges religious, philosophical and scientific traditions in order to create new metaphysical concepts. These innovations had a strong impact on modern cultural theory, philosophy and literature, e. g. on Jorge Luis Borges, Gilles Deleuze and Marie-Laure Ryan. Another, more seedy representative of hybridity is the rocket engineer Jack Parsons, an apprentice of the occultist magician Aleister Crowley who saw his considerable contributions to the American space program as a part of his “Thelemite” mission. Such intersections of divergent strands of knowledge and belief raise questions such as: How do these religious reconfigurations affect the history of modern cultures? Do they allow us to rethink the relation between religion, literature, science and politics? And do they throw new light on the notion of “secularization”?

We welcome both individual case studies of change-inducing heterodoxy and more theoretical and comprehensive approaches that analyze the phenomenon across diverse historical and geographical contexts.

Please send your paper proposal of about 250 words to both organizers ( and until September 15, 2016. Feel also free to contact us if you have any questions.

Organisation / Contact:
Dr. Björn Quiring (FU Berlin,
Prof. Dr. Barbara Ventarola (FU Berlin,

Beitrag von: Barbara Ventarola

Redaktion: Christof Schöch