Our 18th biennial ISRLC conference, this year in Glasgow, Scotland, is now behind us. For yet another year, participants were privileged to a variegated and enriching feast of stimulating discussion and debate, of intense intellectual engagement, and of local cultural exposure, this time around the theme of Lines in the Sand: Borders, Conflicts and Transitions. Across 17 different panels and 42 sessions, over 150 registrants presented papers, with an ever-expanding global reach: countries represented included USA, Canada, UK, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Germany, Austria, Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Hungary, Israel, India, South Africa, Taiwan, China (mainland and Hong Kong), Japan, and (perhaps for the first time, and winner of the furthest afield) Fiji. As always, we owe a great debt to the conference organisers headed by Heather Walton and Anna Fisk of Literature, Theology and the Arts at the University of Glasgow, who worked tirelessly with their team to host such a strong and inspiring event. Many thanks to all of them for advancing in their unique manner, within its distinctly Scottish setting, our tradition of blending high quality with an interdisciplinary, yet intimate, ethos.
Two keynote speakers contributed to this ethos in differing but exemplary ways: Prof. Tim Ingold (Aberdeen) with a lecture entitled “Lines of Correspondence”, and Prof. Catherine Keller (Drew), who presented this year’s Literature and Theology Annual Lecture entitled “Lines in the Innumerable: Enmity, Exceptionalism and Entanglement”. These lectures were filmed, and will soon be available online for viewing online (check this blog for updates).
Special mention was also given to Prof. David Jasper (Glasgow), the only pioneering figure still regularly participating in the conferences. Prof. Jasper helped to launch the first conference in Durham back in 1982, and then became the first General Editor of Literature and Theology, the journal that emerged out of these early events. Acknowledgement was given to Prof. Jasper’s enduring legacy as a driving force behind what has now become an internationally recognised centre of enquiry and exploration, marked precisely by the courage to rethink disciplinary borders, and the conflicts and transitions that arise in crossing them.