This conference proposes “divine disasters” as a new lens for examining the interrelationship between theology, ecology, and literature. We invite papers that consider how ideas of faith, religion, the divine or the sacred are challenged during ecological crises. Focusing on the Spaces/Places of such disasters, we invite enquiries into these distressed landscapes containing multitudinous emotions, including fear, sadness, anxiety, hope and anger, foregrounding theological queries of evil, doubt and suffering. “Divine disasters” becomes a framework to question human vulnerability and theology’s big questions within narratives of distressed landscapes.
Twenty-first-century ecological critics have challenged the term ‘natural disasters’, which blames nature as responsible for ‘“freak” natural phenomena’ (Chmutina and Meding 2019, p.283), or characterises disasters as ‘acts of God’ (Steinberg 2006). Contesting these disasters and terminologies within the eco-criticism field has consequently propelled theological questions of suffering and divine retribution. Literature often facilitates intersections between such theological enquiries and ecological disasters, evidenced in texts like Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798) or Chancey’s What Storm, What Thunder (2021).
During times of ecological crisis, some turn to religion for solace, while others feel their faith shaken (White and Abbot, 2019). These belief-centred dilemmas are unsurprising as the distressed landscapes of disasters contain multitudinous emotions, including fear, sadness, anxiety, hope and anger, foregrounding theological queries of evil, doubt and suffering. On this account, this conference proposes “divine disasters” as a new lens for examining the interrelationship between theology, ecology, and literature.
This conference welcomes explorations of “divine disasters” in various forms, from imagined apocalyptic landscapes in literature to the religious implications of real-life post-disaster recovery. Potential topics for papers include, but are not limited to:
- Disasters as sites of divine retribution/reward
- Disasters as sites of emotional crisis
- Disasters as sites of changing/questioning theologies
- Divine disasters in world literature and theologies
- Divine disasters as oppressive/resistive landscapes
- Divine disasters, ethical questions and social dimensions
- Divine disasters in popular fiction/film/media/art/graphic narratives
- Future of religious and non-religious worldviews in distressed landscapes
Our conference commits to promoting inclusion and diversity within eco-critical discussions by revising and expanding the existing Anglocentric critical responses to include nuanced perspectives on divinity and disasters from numerous religious and non-religious worldviews. We invite submissions from scholars working on any related discipline and are open to any interpretation of the conference theme. We hope to collate papers presented at the event into an edited collection via the Warwick Series in the Humanities with Routledge.
We invite abstracts of 250-300 words, with a short biographical note of 50 words, to be sent to email@example.com by 27th October 2023.