Presenters from as far as Hong Kong and Canada attended the 2011 Conference on Christianity and Literature.
Dr. Karen Lee, English Department chair, organized the conference, from accepting proposal submissions to attending panels.
“[The conference] had over 90 attendees, 77 presenters, and 17 undergraduate presenters from departments including English, Anthropology, Music and Religion,” Lee said.
From Thursday, April 7 to Saturday, April 9, attendees presented papers, listened to presentations and asked panelists questions.
“The quality of academic excellence of undergrad presenters stood out [to me],” Lee said.
The conference opened with keynote speaker Provost Jeff Hittenberger and included the launch of the Synecdoche, Vanguard’s literary journal.
“I have a passion for the ways in which literature illuminates the gospel for us,” Hittenberger said. “It was a delight to be involved.”
Each presenter submitted an abstract of his or her paper for consideration and, upon acceptance, became part of a panel.
The conference theme was “Transformative Journeys: Literature, Faith and Metamorphosis,” and panels were grouped according to content, such as “British Poetics: the Human Dichotomy” or “Transformation, Social Action, and Communities.”
Each panel consisted of three to four presenters, each of whom read his or her paper aloud. After each attendee presented, the audience asked questions. Some presenters also moderated one of the panels; senior Laura Batstone was a presenter and moderator.
“A moderator’s job is to gather a little biography about each of the people who are presenting papers on that specific panel. Before each presenter, this mini description is read,” Batstone said. “The moderator also facilitates the question and answer session, however those in the audience were mostly graduate students and professors who were familiar with the protocol and did not need much organizing.”
Faculty from Hong Kong, Japan, Canada, Boston and Ohio were present. Lee received much positive feedback from presenters.
“[Many attendees] commented that Vanguard has a beautiful campus, that the panels were well-organized and the sessions easily connected. Guests were pleased with hospitality and the food served,” Lee said. “[The] undergrad papers impressed the faculty.”
Hittenberger believes literature has valuable insight for humanity.
“There’s something about classic literature that takes us deeper into our own humanity. It takes you deeper into your own soul,” Hittenberger said. “In Les Miserables we have a great example of how some of the great 19th century fiction writers engaged the central questions of life through the lens of Christian faith.”
Batstone enjoyed her experience at the conference.
“Since I want to attend graduate school in the future, this experience was invaluable. I spoke with many people in the academic field that I wish to be involved in and was encouraged by their example and support. It was fantastic and encouraging to be at Vanguard learning how these conferences operate,” Batstone said.
Last year, the conference was sponsored by California Baptist University and next year, Seattle Pacific University will host it. The Synecdoche is available for $10; if students would like to purchase it they may contact Dr. Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her office on the second floor of Heath.