“How many wounds, how much suffering”: An international academic conference on suffering and story

More than 90 scholars of literature, philosophy, history, religion, education, and the fine and performing arts – representing over 55 institutions – will travel to TWU's Langley campus from as far away as Japan, Wales and New Zealand to explore the nature and treatment of the traumatic in a variety of literary texts and visual mediums.

“This conference seeks to address a series of questions,” explains Dr. Holly Faith Nelson, Associate Professor of English at TWU and Co-chair of the conference: “Can trauma be voiced? Can the wound speak? Or can suffering only be endured in silence? Do stories or narratives help the afflicted make sense of their pain and experience a measure of healing? These and related questions will be engaged by scholars from a rich range of fields.”

Divided into panel discussions, scholars will address the experience of suffering through a variety of lenses, with topics ranging from explorations of Victorian poetry to World War II prison narratives and from ancient literary texts to portrayals of trauma in cinema. By exploring the issue of suffering through a wide-range of academic disciplines, the conference hopes to underscore the various ways of addressing and coping with suffering. As Professor Lynn Szabo explains, “The interdisciplinarity that this conference offers is unique in that the keynote speakers represent not only English literature studies, but also philosophy, art, theology and Biblical studies.”

This wealth of perspective and expertise, Szabo notes, provides a great opportunity for significant dialogue: “In this aspect, the potential for dialogue and understanding is profound, inviting the engagement of scholars, students, and lay readers from diverse perspectives, seeking understanding in a Christian context.”

In addition to the panel discussions, the conference will also feature six keynote addresses by globally-recognized scholars. These scholars from various academic disciplines include Dr. Richard Kearney, who holds the Charles B. Seelig Chair of Philosophy at Boston College, Dr. David Lyle Jeffrey, Distinguished Professor of Literature and Humanities at Baylor University, as well as Dr. Maxine Hancock, Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies and Spiritual Theology at Regent College.

Dr. Jens Zimmermann, Associate Professor of English at TWU and Canada Research Chair in Religion, Interpretation and Culture, Professor Lynn Szabo, Associate Professor and Chair of the English Department at TWU, and Professor Erica Grimm-Vance, Assistant Professor of Art at TWU, will also be offering keynote lectures in their fields of expertise.

True to its spirit of interdisciplinary dialogue, the conference is not limited to lectures, but will also feature art exhibits that reflect the themes being discussed, with paintings by Grimm-Vance and Vancouver-based artist Sarah Boys.

The Conference on Christianity and Literature is an international interdisciplinary society, divided into seven regional organizations, which hosts regular sessions on a variety of authors and themes, with a goal of exploring the relationship between Christianity and Literature.

The conference is funded in part by a generous grant from the Priscilla and Stanford Reid Trust, which will also be used to publish a book of selected proceedings from the conference.

To find out more about the conference and the various events in the three-day period or to register to attend, please visit https://carmel.csc.twu.ca/english/.


Event: 2007 Western Regional Conference on Christianity and Literature—“Through a Glass Darkly: Suffering, the Sacred, and the Sublime”

Date: May 10-12, 2007

Location: Trinity Western University,

7600 Glover Road, BC, Langley V2Y 1Y1

Contact: Program schedule and registration information are available at https://carmel.csc.twu.ca/english/

Trinity Western University, located in Langley, B.C., is a not-for-profit Christian liberal arts and sciences university enrolling approximately 4000 students. TWU offers undergraduate degrees in 39 major areas of study ranging from business, communications and education to biotechnology and nursing, and offers 15 graduate degrees in such areas as counseling psychology, business, the humanities, theology and administrative leadership.


Writer: Amber Butler


Last Updated: 2007-10-11
Author: Erin Mussolum