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The Le Moyne College Religion and Literature Forum 
Sacred Literature, Secular Religion:
A Conference on Cultural Practices
October 1-3, 2015
About the Conference

Charles Taylor recently claimed that we live in “a secular age,” one in which a wide range of religious practices – and ways to opt out of those practices – are available. Today we might follow traditional forms of observance, establish new kinds of worship that are not strictly religious, or reject devotional pursuits altogether. Is Taylor right, or have these options always existed in varying degrees, in various periods and places?

This conference explores how religious and secular concerns overlap and inform modes of belief and forms of pious (and impious) expression. Rather than approach the sacred and the secular in dualistic terms, we seek ways to understand how the categories intersect and criss-cross. Rather than simply map religion onto literature or vice versa, we invite papers that conceptualize and describe the interrelation between the two. 

Conference Schedule

Download the schedule for the conference (pdf)


Showcasing the food and wine of Central New York

Part of the "Green Engage" Initiative

The Syracuse Crowne Plaza Hotel is proud to host the Le Moyne College Religion and Literature Forum.  As part of the Crowne Plaza brand standard the Hotel is active in a company wide initiative called “Green Engage.” This program ensures that properties reduce and minimize their carbon footprints. This is done by using energy saving techniques in the guestrooms and conference center along with selective use of environmentally friendly cleaning supplies and responsible waste removal practices. This project has been paramount in improving not only the downtown core of Syracuse, but also the city's surrounding neighborhoods.


Amila Buturovic
Associate Professor of Humanities at York University

Amila Buturovic's research interests span the intersections of religion and culture, especially in the context of Islamic societies. Her latest research concerns the spaces and culture of death in Bosnia and Herzegovina, focusing on the questions of continuity and discontinuity in the eschatological sensibilities, epigraphic texts, and commemorative practices in Bosnian cultural history. She is the author of Women in the Ottoman Balkans (Ed. Amila Buturovic and I. C. Schick. I. B. Tauris, 2007) and Stone Speaker: Medieval Tombstones, Landscape, and Bosnian Identity in the Poetry of Mak Dizdar (Palgrave/St Martin's Press, 2002).



Amy Hollywood 
Elizabeth H. Monrad Professor of Christian Studies at Harvard Divinity School

Amy Hollywood is the author of The Soul as Virgin Wife: Mechthild of Magdeburg, Marguerite Porete, and Meister Eckhart (University of Notre Dame Press, 1995), which received the Otto Grundler Prize for the best book in medieval studies from the International Congress of Medieval Studies; Sensible Ecstasy: Mysticism, Sexual Difference, and the Demands of History (University of Chicago Press, 2002); and, forthcoming from Columbia University Press, Acute Melancholia and Other Essays. She is also the co-editor, with Patricia Beckman, of The Cambridge Companion to Christian Mysticism (2012). Professor Hollywood is currently exploring the place of the mystical, often redescribed as enthusiasm, within modern philosophy, theology, and poetry.


John Lardas Modern
Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Franklin & Marshall College

John Lardas Modern is the author of two books, Secularism in Antebellum America (University of Chicago Press 2011) and The Bop Apocalypse: The Religious Visions of Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Burroughs (University of Illinois Press 2001). The working title of his current book project is The Religion Machine; or, a particular history of cognitive science.


Cynthia Robinson
Professor in the Department of the History of Art and Visual Studies at Cornell University

Cynthia Robinson works on Medieval and Islamic art. She is committed to an interdisciplinary investigation of the visual, literary, courtly and religious manifestations of cultural and confessional contact and interchange in the Mediterranean world, between 1000 and 1500 A.D., with particular focus on the Iberian peninsula. Her publications include Imagining the Passion in a Multi-Confessional Castile: The Virgin, Christ, Devotions, and Images in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries (Penn State University Press, 2013); Three Ladies and A Lover: Mediterranean Courtly Culture through the Text and Images of the “Hadîth Bayâd wa Riyâd,” an Andalusî Manuscript (London: Curzon-Routledge, 2006); and In Praise of Song: the Making of Courtly Culture in al-Andalus and Provence, 1065-1135 A.D. (Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, 2002). She is currently working on a book entitled A Sufi Aesthetic? Images, Devotion, Power and Mysticism in the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada.


Richard A. Rosengarten
Associate Professor of Religion and Literature at the University of Chicago Divinity School

Richard Rosengarten works in religion and literature, where he pursues interests in genres of narrative (especially the novel), in hermeneutics, literary theory, and aesthetics, and in the development of religious thought through the "long" eighteenth century. His book Henry Fielding and the Narration of Providence: Divine Design and the Incursions of Evil locates Fielding's novels in the contexts of the debates about poetic justice in the drama, and the deism controversy's discussions of natural religion toward the claim that the eighteenth-century English novel engages broader theological questions about the security of classic notions of providential intervention in a post-Newtonian universe. He is completing a book on Roman Catholicism between the Vatican Councils under the title Styles of Catholicism: Flannery O'Connor, Frida Kahlo, Simone Weil, and plans to undertake a study of satire as a mode of apophatic language from Rabelais to Swift.



Conference Sponsors

The Central New York Humanities Corridor, generously supported by an award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

McDevitt Center for Creativity and Innovation

For additional information about the conference, please contact Jennifer Gurley at or William Robert at