Following two successful New York City conferences in 2014 and 2016, the International Society for Heresy Studies is holding its third biennial conference at Senate House, hosted by the Institute of English Studies at the School of Advanced Study, University of London. 

Run in collaboration with the Queen Mary Centre for Religion and Literature the event, ‘Heresy and Borders’, will focus on how borders between heresy and orthodoxy are: created, maintained and imagined. Although the interpretation of ‘heresy’ sits primarily within a religious context, its interpretation is broad enough to include the ‘heretical’ in politics, art, philosophy, and literature.

Keynote speakers are, Dr Devorah Baum, associate professor of English literature and critical theory at the University of Southampton (15 June), and Anshuman Mondal, professor of modern literature at the University of East Anglia. On 16 June he will discuss ‘hate speech, free speech and religious freedom’. The international line-up of speakers makes for a full programme (available here) of interesting and challenging debates.

The study of borders – a popular theme in academic conferences in recent years – feels even more urgent in a time of rising nationalism and political promises to ban immigration and erect walls based on imagined boundaries. Borders are, of course, more than lines drawn across maps and between religions; rather, they are blurry spaces of ambiguity and reversibility where identities are constructed and deconstructed.

Concepts of separation, threshold, and borders have occupied theologians, philosophers, historians and artists since ancient times and remain dynamic elements in the work of today’s theorists and creative artists.

The re-examination of borders can demonstrate how we have constructed the heretical other, and reveal the fragility and arbitrary nature of our own orthodoxies.

When: 15–16 June, 9am–6pm
Who: Institute of English Studies
Where: Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Tickets: £60 | £45, advance registration is required

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