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Divine Disasters: Exploring distressed landscapes in literature and theology

Saturday 24th February 2024

Registration Details - booking has now closed.

In-person Booking Form - for all fee-paying delegates/speakers attending in person (£5.00 registration fee)

Online Booking Form - for anyone who wishes to attend virtually (£5.00 registration fee)

Booking Terms and Conditions including Cancellation/Refund Policy (PDF Document) (important - please read before booking)

About the conference

What happens when belief, sacredness and the divine collide with ecological crises? How do such distressed landscapes alter our ideas of the ecological and theological? These are just some of the questions "Divine Disasters" invites us to explore.

Join us for a one-day interdisciplinary conference on Saturday, 24th February 2024, titled "Divine Disasters: Exploring distressed landscapes in Literature and Theology". 

This hybrid event welcomes 20 researchers from across the globe to unpick the connections between literature, theology, and ecology when depicting disasters. Come along for an exciting day of talks, presentations, and workshops at the University of Warwick.

Please note that there is a small £5 registration fee to help us cover our costs. We ask that delegates only register for one ticket (either online or in-person) so that we know who to expect and how many to cater for. If you need to switch your mode of attendance, please email us at the address below.

  • In-person registration closes on 10th February 2024
  • Online registration closes on 16th February 2024

*UPDATE - Unfortunately Professor Murrieta-Flores will now be unable to attend *

Schedule for the Day

  View the finalised schedule here.

Keynote address from Prof. Patricia Murrieta-Flores

Professor and Co-Director of the Digital Humanities Centre at Lancaster University, Prof. Patricia Murrieta-FloresLink opens in a new window, will deliver the keynote address for Divine Disasters 2024.

As a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and the Centre for Apocalyptic and Postapocalyptic Studies at the University of Heidelberg, Murrieta-Flores is using new developments in Artificial Intelligence to carry out a large-scale analysis of sixteenth-century Spanish and Indigenous American sources on epidemics in New Spain. Their research investigates how Indigenous communities confronted these devastating events and how ideas connected to the Nahua religious understanding of the 'cyclical end of the world' changed during the colonial period.

The title of Prof. Patricia Murrieta-Flores' keynote is: "Nepantla, between indigenous time and colonial space: Reflections about the end of the world in Central Mexico".

A hybrid event

We're delighted to confirm that Divine Disasters will be a hybrid event, welcoming both online and in-person delegates. So whether you're joining us from the UK or further afield, we can't wait to welcome to you to "Divine Disasters".

  • Tickets for in-person delegates are limited to the venue's capacity and will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Lunch will be provided.
  • Virtual delegates can enjoy the symposium from the comfort of their homes. Our virtual Q&A and video conferencing platform ensures everyone can engage with the event.

Please note that the small £5 registration fee is the same for both online and in-person delegates.

Engaging Workshops 

As part of our conference programme, we're thrilled to include two workshop sessions in which delegates can engage with our "Divine Disasters" theme in interactive, creative ways. Delegates can choose to attend one of the hour-long afternoon workshops. (Further details to follow).

Workshop A: Reading Ecopoetics in Divine Disasters

This workshop invites delegates to discuss some of the aesthetic and ontological questions underpinning the conference in a seminar-like format. Drawing on short poems, pieces of artwork and some brief excerpts of theoretical texts, we will discuss how creative practices and religion can allow us to find meaning in disasters, making legible the connections that bind together superficially disparate crises. We will also explore the function of interdisciplinarity in relation to these questions, informed by the wide-ranging experiences and specialisms of the attendees. All of the materials will be provided in the session, and no prior reading is required.

Co-organiser Ambika Raja will facilitate this workshop with PhD candidates at Warwick, Nicola Hamer and Lizzie Smith.

Nicola Hamer is a PhD student at the University of Warwick, funded by Midlands4Cities (AHRC). Her thesis draws upon poetry from North America and the Caribbean to explore ecological grief as a response to ongoing colonial histories.

Lizzie Smith is a third-year PhD researcher at the University of Warwick with M4C funding, investigating the disruptive potential of “weird” or uncharismatic organisms, from insects to bacteria to plant life, in contemporary ecopoetics. She is keen to explore interdisciplinary perspectives and is open to conversations about unconventional creatures or perspectives.

Workshop B: Creating Responses to Divine Disasters
This workshop invites delegates to generate their own creative responses to disasters and the divine. With a creative writing focus, we will provide several prompts and starting points for thinking about ecology, theology, and literature. Then, through a series of creative writing exercises, we invite the group to write their responses in verse, prose, or another medium of their choice.
Co-organiser Ruth-Anne Walbank and PhD candidate Catherine Greenwood will facilitate this workshop.
Catherine Greenwood is a PhD Researcher in Creative Writing Poetry/Gothic Studies from the University of Sheffield. Her award-winning poetry appears in numerous journals and anthologies, and she is working on a neo-Gothic novel.

We recognise that talking about disasters, faith, and related topics can be heavy, sometimes difficult topics. We won't ask anyone to share personal details or beliefs; these workshops are here to start dialogues and invite delegates to explore the conference themes in a comfortable and safe space.

Exciting new research

We have a host of exciting panels for you, with new research and unique interpretations of our "Divine Disasters" theme. While these panels are subject to change, here is what you can expect from the day:

Panel 1A: Dark Ecologies and Gothic Disasters
  • Jonathan Greenaway, Divine Absence at the End of the World: Theological Spaces and Secular Eschatology
  • Victoria Greenwood, "Nature is Satan's church": Horror and the haunted anti-Eden
  • Lily Grainger, Ecocritical readings of apocalyptic storms in Shakespeare's King Lear and The Tempest
Panel 1B: Hope and Morality in the Face of Disaster
  • Maša Uzelac, From Ecology to Ethics: Parables of Disasters as Moral Lessons in Aldous Huxley's Philosophy
  • Nadine Josephine Menghin, "To be the novice of a deer": From Contemplation Towards an Attitude of Hope and an Ethics of Care in Contemporary Nature Poetry in Canada
  • Nicholes Nicholes, "On the Complete Deed: Benjamin and Theweleit on the Moral and Mythic Violence of Climate Disasters"
Panel 2A: Deluge, Disaster, and Divine Deep Ecologies
  • Ebrahim Barzegar, "Fear and Trembling in Deluge Landscape: Questioning God and Faith in Extrapolations TV Series"
  • Lauren Hamilton, "Deep Ecology, Divinity and Disaster: The Eco-Philosophy of Eco-tainment animations"
  • Francesca Bihet, "At the end of the world where lions weep": Deluge and Devotion in Steven Spielberg's AI.
Panel 2B: Divine Disasters and Religious Practice
  • Cody Crawshaw, "I've... opted out of climate anxiety": A theological consideration of responses to climate change in those with anxiety disorders."
  • Corinne Nelson, Cultural Trauma and Communal Healing: How COVID-19 Has Revealed a Crucial Sociological Phenomenon
  • Fardun Ali Middya, When God Shatters Temples: An Interrogative Analysis of Judeo-Christian and Islamic Theology Regarding the Broken Sacred Sites of Turkey in 2023 Earthquakes.
Panel 3A: Remembering Disaster in Art and Culture
  • Gavin Davies, "Unearthing Namazu-e—A Study of Earthquake Imagery in Japanese Woodblock Prints"
  • Derek R. Davenport, Inventions of Apocalypse: John Martin’s Response to Disasters in Literature
  • Abdul Basith K, Configuring Faith amid Environmental Disasters: Cultural Memories of the Ecological Past and Arabimalayalam Flood Songs
Panel 3B: Extractions, Wastelands, and Human-made Disasters
  • Nataliya Pratsovyta, Faith and Disaster Response in Svetlana Alexievich's Chernobyl Prayer: A Chronicle of the Future
  • Alastair Lockhart, Finding Meaning in the Nagasaki Wasteland: Takashi Nagai's The Bells of Nagasaki.
  • Bushra Mahzabeen, "Vengeful Deity or the Saviour of Nature?: Supernatural Resistance of Petro-Violence in The Return of the Water Spirit"

Get in touch

This conference is supported by the Humanities Research Centre at the University of Warwick and is organised by PhD Candidates Ambika Raja and Ruth-Anne Walbank.

If you have any questions about the conference, please get in touch using the contact details below.

*Please note that our call for papers is now closed.*

Email: divinedisastersconf at gmail dot com

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