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Autumn conference 2020
Members and non-members welcome

Heaven and Nature

Saturday 7 November 2020
Corpus Christi College, Oxford

We are resetting to video conference

Humankind has ever been impressed by, and formed by, the natural world. The world’s beginning and end are a subject in numerous narratives. Ecocriticism addresses large scale concerns about anthropocene changes. In literary tradition there is a multiplicity of understandings, while Biblical religion has stated that God made both heaven and earth.

Epicurus (Greek 3rd cent. BC) and Lucretius (De Rerum Natura) considered that the gods had no involvement with earth, where particles, or corpuscles, were the fundamental reality. It was a line of thinking taken up in 17th century Europe when the Ancients had been rediscovered. But there was reluctance to take materialism as the only valid frame of reference, and an impulse to answer it. Christian Natural Law, or Natural Theology, regarded God as the author of the laws of nature, and John Locke wrote that ‘the works of Nature everywhere sufficiently evidence a Deity’. Scientists Newton and Boyle, theologian philosophers Berkeley and Butler and in literature Augustans and Romantics would reflect belief in something above and beyond.

Literary pastoral has long served idealist purposes. Nature at large, or particular places, can suggest heaven, or on earth a sustaining refuge or theatre of recreation. Nature may be a contrary of heaven or a confirmation of it, the ‘state of nature’ a reactionary idea or a reforming idea, a barbarous wilderness or a form of Eden. History may look, as it were, back to a golden age or forward to an apocalyptic destruction.

Some reading suggestions

Papers normally have a reading time of about 20 minutes, and are followed by a few minutes of discussion. They are offered for publication in The Glass and subsequently on the CLSG website.

The deadline for offering a paper was 30 June 2020. Email Dr Roger Kojecký, secretary@clsg.org

Although travel and meeting restrictions require the conference to be reset to video conferencing, we hope nevertheless to publish some of the papers in The Glass in early 2021. Proposals were submitted on the basis of this possibiity.

Details of the last conference: Autumn conference 2019

CLSG: exploring Christian and Biblical themes in literature

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The Christian Literary Studies Group in association with the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship