More than 80 faculty members and students from a broad range of disciplines gathered at Azusa Pacific to present research, explore the role of faith and community in writing, and pursue literary excellence at the 2013 Western Regional Conference on Christianity and Literature (CCL) held May 16–18. Attendees hailed from APU and universities around the nation and the world (Scotland, Japan, Dubai), offering innovative ideas and recent research on Christianity and literature, obtaining valuable critiques, and broadening their understanding of topics related to the conference theme, “The Company of Others: Literary Collaboration and the Common Good.”
In panels of three, more than 80 presenters gave scholarly papers, followed by question-and-answer sessions that sparked dialogue, collaboration, and new ideas.
“This conference offered the perfect example of iron sharpening iron. As faculty members, we never stop learning, and the enriching educational atmosphere of a CCL conference allows us to share our work, learn from our peers, and grow as literary scholars and writers,” said Patricia Andujo, Ph.D., conference organizer and associate professor of English.
Panel presentations encouraged the audience to consider how—as creative scholars, teachers, and writers—they can inspire themselves and their readers to pursue excellence, compassion, and God. Presenters also addressed the importance of community collaboration in faith, language, literature, and the writing process, examining the relationships between students and teachers, writers and mentors, literary scholars and scholars of other disciplines, and most important, between scholars, creative writers, and God. Luba Zakharov, MFA, librarian and curator at APU, spoke on influential Christian writer Madeleine L’Engle, whose books convey Christian truths creatively through literature and illustrate the value of working with others in writing.
“L’Engle exemplified the creative process as a collaborative effort in her writing,” said Zakharov. “She believed that creativity doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Instead, by sharing work with friends and editors for critique, writers ensure they produce the best work possible.”
During featured keynotes, three faculty members from the Department of English discussed the intersection of spirituality, community, and writing: Diane Glancy, MFA, Diana Glyer, Ph.D., and Joseph Bentz, Ph.D. In his address, “A New Day for Literature: How Worried Should You Be?,” Bentz discussed the current rise of electronic entertainment and how it might threaten the need for literature, the impact this has on the literary world, and the enduring value of the novel.
“As literature scholars, we remain relevant to our culture as long as literature itself is relevant,” said Bentz.
Founded in 1956, CCL serves as an interdisciplinary society dedicated to exploring the relationships between Christianity and literature, pursuing scholarly excellence, and facilitating collaboration between hundreds of colleges and universities around the world. Through participation at the annual Modern Language Association (MLA) conference, CCL also allows Christian scholars to engage the worldwide academic community.
“Faith plays an integral role in Christian scholars’ approaches to literary studies, and CCL provides the opportunity for them to exchange ideas with fellow believers,” said Emily Griesinger, Ph.D., professor in the Department of English and CCL’s western region representative. “Through its seven conferences each year, CCL brings teachers and scholars together to challenge one another, exchange ideas, share literary work for critique, pursue academic excellence, and ‘spur one another on toward love and good deeds.’”