Beasts and monsters populate the religious imagination. From ancient cosmogonies and classic fairy tales to modern horror films and contemporary apocalyptic narratives, depictions of the strange and fantastic shape and challenge the categories by which human beings order their experience. Encounters with beasts and monsters in religious discourses can both undermine and reaffirm conceptions of what it means to be ordered or chaotic, native or foreign, and natural or unnatural. They often are invoked as means to constitute and uphold human communities.
Representations of the radically other often have moral valences and serve as mechanisms to highlight the constellation of virtues (and vices) that define the brave (and often flawed) hero or heroine. Such archetypes can delimit a spectrum of human behavior and, in doing so, reinforce certain conceptions of religious and ethical formation. Encounters with the monstrous be also be moments of transcendence in which strangeness itself signifies the divine.
Depictions of beasts and monster both attract and repel, always provocatively expanding the boundaries of the religious imagination. This conference aims to interrogate the role of the beast and monster across a wide range of religious discourses and to examine these figures in political, social, theoretical, and ethical contexts.
This two-day conference will be held on February 28 and March 1, 2014 at Brown University. Our keynote address will be delivered by John Lardas Modern from Franklin & Marshall College.
Abstracts for papers should be between 200 and 250 words, are due November 1, 2013, and should be emailed to the conference committee at BrownRSConference@gmail.com. Proposals should include the title of the paper, the presenter's name, institutional and departmental affiliation, and any technology requests. We will notify applicants by December 1, 2013.
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