May 10

Announcement: The Journal of Heresy Studies is accepting submissions

The International Society of Heresy Studies is pleased to announce that its newly founded journal, The Journal of Heresy Studies, is accepting submissions. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jul 20

Impressions of the ISHS 2014 Conference: Bernard Schweizer

Conference Reflections:

A General Membership meeting with standing-room only is surely the dream of every initiator of a new Society. It was at that moment that the ISHS became a reality for me, and I was thrilled to look around the crowded seminar room on the 4th floor of the Gallatin School. Shortly after the start of proceedings, I realized that this was no rubber-stamping, yes-nodding assembly, but an inquisitive (though not inquisitorial!), lively, smartly disputatious gathering, and I thoroughly enjoyed discussing the bylaws and probing the key terms and principles that inform our Society’s mission. It is a rarity nowadays to have a group of people who deliberately eschew both the culture of reflexive affirmation (the “positive thinking” school of corporate America where critical deviation is considered “bad” for company morale) and the knee-jerk partisan bickering that characterizes our political discourse. Here is a group, I thought, composed of people from different viewpoints—especially differing religious and non-religious viewpoints—who nevertheless manage to have a civilized, informed, constructive dialogue about matters of real import such as whether blasphemy is a “victimless crime.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Jul 16

Impressions of the ISHS 2014 Conference: Jordan Miller

Webmaster’s Note: The following notes of various definitions, conceptions, and formulations of heresy offered during the 2014 ISHS Conference were recorded by Jordan Miller.

Possible wording for use in the Society’s bylaws:
The society recognizes fully that as definitions of “religion” are notoriously problematic, in turn, varieties of religious expression or reactions against particular religious expressions are also impossible to define comprehensively. As a result, each term––”heresy,” “blasphemy,” and “unbelief”––is dynamic and the Society’s understanding of these definitions leaves them each, by both necessity and design, open-ended and slippery. They mutually constitute each other and are context-dependent. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jul 06

Impressions of the ISHS 2014 Conference: Robert Royalty, Jr.

At the risk of sounding irreverent (or a bit heretical?), I was struck by how much the ISHS can sound like the “International Society Haunted by Spirituality.” This was most evident in James Wood’s wonderfully allusive plenary, but there were undercurrents in other discussions and papers. As a religion scholar, it’s very interesting to watch people tiptoeing into the shallow end—or diving into the deep end—of the topic which I have made my professional focus. My sense is the Society can be a new “middle space” between the American Academy of Religion and the Modern Languages Association. The breadth of interdisciplinarity was exciting and refreshing. It was probably the most diverse meeting I’ve attended.

This will be a fun, stimulating group to hang out with!

[Webmaster's note: This post is part of a series offering impressions of, and reflections on, the 2014 ISHS Conference by participating Society members.]

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Jun 07

Results of first ISHS election

The first ISHS conference took place last weekend, and many of the stimulating conversations begun there are continuing in other forums. We are already looking forward to our next conference, likely in 2016. A number of announcements related to the conference will likely follow in the coming days, but right now I’d like to congratulate the society’s newly elected officers and board members.


  • President: Gregory Erickson
  • Vice-president: Bernard Schweizer
  • Secretary-treasurer: John Holloway
  • Webmaster: Geremy Carnes


  • Artist representative: James Morrow
  • Creative writing program representative: Lorna Gibb
  • Faith representative: David Dickinson
  • Secularism representative: Rebecca N. Goldstein
  • Literary criticism representative: James Wood
  • Theology representative: Valentine Cunningham
  • Religion and politics representative: Jordan Miller
  • History representative: Robert Royalty
  • Graduate student representative: Ethan Quillen

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Jun 04

Impressions of the ISHS 2014 Conference: James Morrow

James Morrow

I think our premiere convention proved a ringing affirmation of heretical literature in all its glorious paradoxicality. Valuable poems, plays, stories, and novels embrace simultaneously the discursive and the dramatic; they cannot be domesticated. During the Friday afternoon roundtable I introduced the image of Ivan Karamazov “returning his ticket”—his unwillingness to accept the tortured child as the price of a harmonious universe—and I was pleased when James Wood, in his keynote address that evening, reminded us of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s anxiety that the vivid character of Ivan might eclipse Father Zosima in the reader’s mind. Dostoyevsky’s fear was not unfounded. His novel revels in ambiguity. And so the conversation continues…

[Webmaster's note: This post is part of a series offering impressions of, and reflections on, the 2014 ISHS Conference by participating Society members.]

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Jun 04

Discount on Robert M. Royalty’s The Origin of Heresy

One of our Society members, Robert M. Royalty, was unable to bring copies of his book to the Society conference last weekend, but an order form is available to anyone who would like to purchase a copy at a 20% discount. Read the rest of this entry »

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May 10

Announcement: 2014 ISHS Conference program now online

The inaugural conference of the International Society for Heresy Studies, to be held at New York University on May 30th and 31st, is fast approaching. The conference program is now available, as are abstracts of papers. We encourage attendees to view them prior to the conference. Conference registrations for auditors are still being accepted.

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Feb 03

Announcement: Best talks at 2014 ISHS Conference to be published in collection

ISHS has an exciting announcement: the organizers of the Society’s 2014 Conference will solicit the best conference talks as developed chapters to be published as a collection by DeGruyter. More details will appear here as they become available.

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Jan 27

ISHS Inaugural Conference, May 30-31, 2014: Call for Papers: Extended Deadline

First Conference of the International Society for Heresy Studies

May 30-31, 2014

Deadline for conference proposals extended to March 1st, 2014!

The International Society for Heresy Studies announces a Call for Papers for its inaugural conference at New York University, May 30-31, 2014. We will accept proposals for papers, roundtables, and panels on the topic of heresy and/in literature and art. This conference will examine the historical and contemporary developments of heretical thought in its dialogue with literature and art. Read the rest of this entry »

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