Call For Papers

“But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die.’”

Genesis 3:4

“Most things may never happen: this one will.”

Philip Larkin

The 2013 Virginia Graduate Colloquium welcomes submissions of original research from graduate students on the topic “Reckoning With Death: Humanity, Mortality and the Ends of Life.” At once a subject for the loftiest theological and philosophical reflection and a pressing practical concern, death intrudes, eventually, into every human life. With this year’s theme, the colloquium organizers hope to foster a robust interdisciplinary discussion about how the fact of mortality structures our understanding of what it means to be human.

To that end, we welcome papers that approach death from a variety of different angles. Theologians and philosophers might ask, How do we properly conceive of the reality of our own death while we are yet living? What does the fact of human finitude teach us about the nature of human existence, especially for those who believe that death is not truly the end? Social theorists and ethicists may want to focus on how these questions inform the most pressing societal dilemmas of our day. How does ambivalence about death influence a society’s practice of medicine, politics, and economics? Is it possible to face death well as a society in the absence of a consensus about the end—or ends—of life? The colloquium hopes to address how particular communities conceive of and approach questions about death, mourning, and remembrance. Are there communities that illustrate what it looks like to die well; remember and memorialize rightly? Do religious traditions offer liturgical or scriptural resources that might shape one’s conception of death in a salutary way?

Successful applicants will approach this question not only with insight and clarity but also a willingness to engage in an interdisciplinary discussion. We welcome relevant submissions addressing the following areas of study:

  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Liturgical Studies
  • Religion and Literature
  • Bioethics
  • Constructive Theology
  • Biblical Studies
  • Religion and Critical Theory
  • Political Theology
  • Religious Ethics
  • Lived Theology

* Proposals in the form of a 250-word abstract are due on January 31th, 2013. Notifications of acceptance will be sent out on February 11th, 2013. Final papers, not to exceed 2000 words, must be submitted by March 4th, 2013.

* Papers will be presented on April 5-6, 2013 on panels moderated by esteemed faculty members.

This colloquium is sponsored by The University of Virginia Office of the Dean of Arts & Sciences, The University of Virginia Office of Diversity & Equality, The Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, The Virginia Center for the Study of Religion, The Institute for Practical Ethics and Public Life, and The University of Virginia Department of Religious Studies.

For more information, or to submit a proposal, email: