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Religious Disbelief and the Emotions in Global Perspective: From Ancient to Modern

A two-day conference, to be held online, hosted by Macquarie University

Image: Salvator Rosa, Democrito e Protagora (between 1663 and 1664), Wikimedia Commons

Date: 23–24 January 2023 (6:00pm–10:00pm AEDT each day).
Venue: Online, hosted by Macquarie University
Call for Papers Deadline: 31 October 2022
Enquiries: keagan.brewer@mq.edu.au

Download a copy of the Call for Papers


Call for Papers

This conference seeks applications for papers of 15–20 minutes concerning the interactions between religious disbeliefs and the emotions in any location or time period up to 1800 C. E.

The conference is hosted by Macquarie University (based in Sydney, Australia) and the Macquarie Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions. The conference will be online-only, via Zoom. It is scheduled for 23 and 24 January 2023 at times of day that, it is hoped, will be amenable as much as possible to participants from various locations. Sessions will be recorded and published online (temporarily and in private) for  any conference participants unable to attend concurrently.

Throughout history, religious disbelievers have expressed themselves, sometimes in stark terms and with strong emotions. Their beliefs may interact with or stem from emotions responding to hegemonic religious narratives and thought worlds. This conference seeks to bring together experts from a large variety of fields of historical and literary enquiry to
help us better understand the extent to which interplays between religious disbeliefs and the emotions vary or remain similar in different time periods, locations, individuals, religious and cultural milieux, textual (or material) genres, and so on. 

Topics of interest may include, but are in no way limited to:

  • the emotions of specific historical disbelievers;
  • the emotions of critics of religious disbelief;
  • specific emotions, such as anger, despair, or joy experienced by religious disbelievers;
  • the ways in which the emotions reported for religious disbelievers have been socially or culturally constructed;
  • lack of expected or ‘correct’ emotional responses to religious rituals, ideas, or norms;
  • the rise or retreat of religious disbeliefs within individuals or populations in response to emotions raised by life circumstances, political events, and so on;
  • feelings of belonging or non-belonging among religious disbelievers and their critics;
  • psychological or anthropological approaches to acts of violence, hatred, or
    discrimination perpetrated against or by religious disbelievers;
  • the emotions of disbelievers in fictional or mythological literature, or the emotions deriving from receptions thereof;
  • the interactions between emotions and doubt (or certainty) about received religious concepts;
  • analysis of disbelievers’ emotions over time;
  • how the textual or material records of disbelievers interact with emotions in their reception; or
  • specific manifestations or constructions of disbelief, such as apostasy, conversion, blasphemy, atheism, and so on.

Because this conference takes a broad perspective over time and space, participants should expect that there will be various degrees of knowledge of the particular cultural milieu they study.

It is hoped that this conference will result in a volume of papers to be edited by the conference convener, Dr Keagan Brewer FRHistS, who has interest from several publishers for the volume. Written papers for the volume will be in the range of 5,000–8,000 words, excluding notes. Acceptance into the written volume will not be automatic for those accepted to speak at the conference, and will depend upon numbers and

The time frame for the conference is as follows:

  • July 2022: publication of CfP;
  • 31 October 2022: deadline for proposals;
  • 15 November 2022: notification of outcomes to proposals;
  • 23–24 January 2023: online conference;
  • 30 April 2023: deadline for submission of written papers.

Please email proposals to keagan.brewer@mq.edu.au. Proposals should be 200–300 words, and include a brief bio of 100–200 words. Any questions about the conference can also be directed to the same email address.