First Conference on Heresy Studies

First Conference on Heresy Studies February 21, 2014

I recently came across this call for papers that some readers may be interested in:

First Conference of the International Society for Heresy Studies

May 30-31, 2014

full name / name of organization: International Society for Heresy Studies

contact email:  Gregory T. Erickson (

Deadline for conference proposals extended to March 1st, 2014!

The International Society for Heresy Studies announces a Call for Papers for its inaugural conference at New York University, May 30-31, 2014. We will accept proposals for papers, roundtables, and panels on the topic of heresy and/in literature and art. This conference will examine the historical and contemporary developments of heretical thought in its dialogue with literature and art. Much of the published work in literature and religion, whether confessional or skeptical, tends to treat religion in a reductive manner. Terms like “religion,” “Christian,” and “God,” are left unproblematized and are assumed to have a single fixed meaning. The study of heresy and its relationship to literature and art helps to destabilize these terms and their usage. The origins of heresy in the Western world come out of debates around literary practices and devices—allegory, typology, canon formation, authorial intent, and literary influence—so it is not surprising that discourses of heresy are powerful tools in literary study. We welcome papers and proposals on any aspect of heresy and literature or heresy and the arts, with a particular focus on papers that draw multiple disciplines into dialogue. Papers that examine the historical relationships and contexts are welcome alongside papers that explore creative and constructive accounts of heretical thinking. Speakers and attendees working in philosophy, theology, history, literary theory, art history, creative writing as well as working writers, poets, and artists are welcome. Heresies can be understood as specific doctrinal deviations from normative articles of faith, as subversive or alternative belief systems, as various nontraditional conceptions of the deity, or as nonconformist stances. We use the term “heresy” in a value-neutral way, neither celebrating nor condemning it, but simply making it a central object of critical inquiry.

To be considered for a talk at the conference, submit abstracts of up to 500 words to Bernard Schweizer ( or Gregory T. Erickson ( by March 1, 2014.

Featured Speakers at the Conference:

• Thomas J.J. Altizer

• Rebecca Newberger Goldstein

• James Wood


• 2 Awards of $400 each for scholars applying from abroad.

• 2 Awards of $400 each for graduate students (applying from anywhere).

To apply, submit a 500-word abstract for a conference talk by March 1st, 2014, to Gregory T. Erickson ( A selection committee will decide the winners based on originality, suitability, and scholarly merit. Winners will be notified by March 20.


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  • Heresy, eh?

    “To talk of immaterial existences is to talk of nothings. To say that the human soul, angels, God, are immaterial, is to say they are nothings, or that there is no God, no angels, no soul. I cannot reason otherwise: but I believe I am supported in my creed of materialism by Locke, Tracy, and Stewart. At what age of the Christian church this heresy of immaterialism, this masked atheism, crept in, I do not know. But a heresy it certainly is.” ~Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, August 15, 1820

    But they could never let that idea run. 😉

  • Ryan Hite

    Heresy is such a broad topic though. How can we be sure what exactly was meant in the interpretation of the texts? We don’t have very much information from the time that can be authenticated.

    • arcseconds

      What time? I don’t see a restriction to a certain time-period here, and people still declare things to be heretical today.

  • This conference seeks to “explore creative and constructive accounts of heretical thinking”, but doesn’t the accusation of “heresy” say much more about the accuser than the “heretic”. Historically, those persecuted for heresy include anyone whose speech contradicts the ruling religious authority.

    Isn’t the concept of heresy simply a tool by which religious authorities condemn free speech and persecute the speakers?