CFP: Death and the Sacred

Extended deadline – Call for Papers

New Deadline for submissions is February 15th, 2019

Death and the Sacred


Manchester Metropolitan University

Confirmed Speakers:

Andrew Michael Hurley (Author of The Loney and Devil’s Day, winner of Costa Book Award and the British Book Industry Award book of the year)

Rosie Garland (Author of Vixen and writer in residence at John Ryland’s)


Death and the Sacred is the theme for a one day symposium to be held March 22nd 2019 at Manchester Metropolitan University.

This symposium will focus on literature, arts and practice where individuals, groups, artists and writers explore a range of topics and themes deemed sacred and their interaction with death.  Across all religions and cultures, death and dying has always loomed over sacred sites, texts, practices and journeys, and death has always commanded ritual and sacred attention. The theme ‘death and the sacred’, therefore, provides a fruitful topic for thinking about how the uniquely ordained, set aside, extraordinary features of particular locations and sites, bodies, practices and belief systems are influenced, reformed and repurposed by death.

Along with considering the sacred nature of death, the symposium will incorporate the contemplation and discussion of such issues as the dialogue between humanity and spirituality in the face of increasing globalisation, materialism, communication, consumerism, science and technology. As part of this quest, it will consider the degree to which the sacred is still tied to religious and theological identity, its seemingly non-religious forms, and whether the sacred is being regenerated or eroded to the point of death in contemporary society. It will consider connected issues such as the relation of the sacred to issues of community, mourning and loss, and it will contemplate the politics and ethics of the sacred in contemporary society.

This interdisciplinary symposium aims to explore, analyse and debate the relationship between death and the sacred in art and narrative. We invite abstracts of 300 words for 20 minute papers and proposals for art/performance exhibits relating to the conference theme. We welcome and encourage diverse religious and secular attitudes and voices on the multifaceted nature of death and the sacred. Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • Literature as a sacred narrative
  • Notions of death and the sacred in literature, art, cinema and related genres
  • Sacred relics/the sacred as relic
  • Death of sacred settings and objects
  • Religious/secular ceremonies, rites and rituals and death
  • Death as a sacred or sacred troubling topic
  • Landscapes, pilgrimages and death
  • Apocalypse and the sacred
  • The representation and transformation of the sacred in contemporary society and culture
  • The sacred and profane

Please submit abstracts/proposals of no more than 300 words to Eleanor Beal, Department of English, Manchester Metropolitan University: