CFP: “Religion, Criticism, and the Postcritical”

Special Issue of LIT: Literature Interpretation Theory

Over the past two decades, literary critics have debated some of the founding tenets of secular critical inquiry. Revisiting standards of objectivity, reason, and distance that govern normative critical practice, they have questioned the achievability and the desirability of what Rita Felski has called critique’s “thought style.” Such debates have reactivated interest in critical methods premised on subjective relations to a given text, on faith, and on proximity. In acknowledging how belief undergirds the most critical of positions, “postcriticism” seems especially promising as a means of approaching and understanding religion and religious commitments.

Yet this relationship has often remained methodological without being expansively practical. Thus this special issue seeks essays on literature and culture that deploy postcritical methods and which investigate the extent that these methods rely (or not) on religious content, feeling, or belief. We are interested in the possibilities afforded by studies of religion in the postcritical era, and we see the literary as particularly ripe for reappraising doubt and secularism. What stories can be told about literature that are not possible when we disavow belief? What limits does religiously-influenced postcriticism find when it acknowledges faith cannot possibly be universally identical? How have religious movements informed critical practice? And how might a postcritical perspective trouble or transform our understanding of “religion” itself? In sum, we welcome essays that investigate the uncertain divide between the categories of literature and criticism, as well as (re)consider the relationship between the standards of criticism and the history of the discipline with respect to religion. Possible topics include: secularity / postsecularity and literature, religious movements and literature, identity (national, gender, racial, sexual) and religion, genre and religion, reading practices and religion, histories of the discipline in light of religious feeling and belief, etc.

Submissions must use MLA citation style and should be between 5,000-9,000 words (including notes and works cited).

Please direct any questions relating to this cfp to both guest editors, Winter Jade Werner ( and John Wiehl (

Submissions should be emailed to by 31 December 2019. Please include your contact information and a 100-200 word abstract in the body of your email.

LIT: Literature Interpretation Theory also welcomes submissions for general issues.


Guest Co-Editors: Winter Jade Werner and John Wiehl

LIT Co-Editors: Dwight Codr and Tara Harney-Mahajan

Deadline for submissions: December 31, 2019