Literature as Vocation 

Western Regional Conference on Christianity and Literature

Azusa Pacific University

Azusa, CA

March 16-18, 2023


Keynote Speaker: James K.A. Smith

James K.A. Smith is a professor of philosophy at Calvin University and serves as editor in chief of Image journal, a quarterly devoted to “art, mystery, and faith.” Trained as a philosopher with a focus on contemporary French thought, Smith has expanded on that scholarly platform to become an engaged public intellectual and cultural critic. In his latest book, How to Inhabit Time: Understanding the Past, Facing the Future, Living Faithful Now (2022), Smith shows that awakening to the spiritual significance of time is crucial for orienting faith in the 21st century. Integrating popular culture, biblical exposition, and meditation, Smith’s text provides insights for pastoring, counseling, spiritual formation, politics, and public life.


Why do we do what we do in the field of literary studies? Why does it matter? To whom? What redemptive or transformative work does literature do? When? Where? How? We invite reflection and conversation about the different kinds of work literature does to and through writers, readers, teachers, thinkers, and scholars. Our topic is intentionally broad as we seek to inspire, encourage, and celebrate the creation, interpretation, and appreciation of literature from any historical period and any genre. Our format is inclusive with panels for professors, graduate and undergraduate students, as well as scholars from multiple disciplines including English, Modern Languages, Theology, Education, Psychology, Science, and Humanities.


Registration link here: 

For more information, write to Dr. Patricia Brown at 



Regional conferences afford members an opportunity to learn from one another and to build networks of support for their scholarly and professional endeavors. They also offer graduate students an opportunity to gain valuable experience presenting at conferences.

For the themes of past and recent regional conferences, please click on the regions below:









CCL East regional conference
Dates: June 2–3, 2023
Location: Regent University in Virginia Beach, VA
Theme: “Transformations in Literary Traditions”
Keynote speaker: Phillip Donnelly

Centuries after Homer, Virgil’s Aeneid expanded the scope of the Greek epics to show, in Virgil’s presentation, that the Trojans or Romans were the true victors of the Trojan War. Such literary subversion is not unique to the pagan writers. In Beowulf the mingling of Christian and pagan elements results in a national epic set at the historical point at which England was converting to Christianity. And Milton’s Paradise Lost even further transforms the epic genre in subject matter, muse, heroic qualities, etc.

Justifications for these transformations are rooted in biblical sources and the writings of church fathers. The Apostle Paul speaks of the renewing of our minds and the captivity and demolition of any arguments that raise themselves against the knowledge of God. Origen may have been the first church father to use the biblical account of the Hebrews’ plundering the Egyptians as a metaphor for the Christian appropriation of pagan culture. (Augustine’s more famous usage appears both in his Confessions and On Christian Teaching.) In a letter, Jerome describes Goliath’s sword—which David used to decapitate Goliath himself—as a metaphor for how Christians can use pagan learning for the cause of Christ.

The transformation of literary traditions reverberates in contemporary times as well. Regarding the work of Cormac McCarthy, Michael Crews has written about the process of how “matter for” a work of literature becomes “matter in” the work itself (Books Are Made Out of Books 14). In the realm of poetry, Micah Mattix writes, “[P]oets like Shane McCrae have drawn from the post-structuralist critique of language as pure representation to show how the West has suppressed the voices and experiences of the marginalized. The subversion one finds in his work is a distinctly Christian kind of subversion, where the poet speaks for the silenced minority and shows how the culturally determined language of Western Christianity can be just that—culturally determined—rather than a faithful representation of the ethic found in the Old Testament and the Gospels” (Christian Poetry in America Since 1940 18).

With these transformations in mind, we invite papers that address questions of scholarship and questions of pedagogy. Related themes include the following:
• Transformations in Eastern or Western literary traditions,
• Christ and culture paradigms in literature,
• Conditions of appropriate appropriation,
• Imitation as flattery,
• Tensions between (or the harmony of) humility and triumph,
• The dangers of triumphalism,
• The blessings of triumph,
• Transformation as formation,
• Conventions, expectations, and surprise,
• The creation of new traditions,
• Etc.
As always, going beyond the topic at hand, we welcome any proposals that consider the relationship of Christianity and literature. Please email abstracts of no more than 500 words to Jeremy Larson ( by March 31, 2023.