Heresy and the Liberal ArtsBob Royalty » ISHS: International Society for Heresy Studies



Heresy and the Liberal Arts

Bob Royalty

The London conference of the International Society of Heresy Studies was a fascinating, interdisciplinary liberal arts experience for me.  The program blew me away by its breadth and richness.  Since I wasn’t presenting, I was a “free agent” to choose which panel to attend, but it was always a difficult choice.  Most of the time, when there were parallel panels, I had no idea which to go to.  If Suzanne Hobson, who did an excellent job organizing the conference, had not asked me to chair one panel on Saturday morning, I still don’t know which one I would have chosen.  The fascinating and stimulating plenaries by distinguished guests—Devorah Baum, Daniel Trilling, and Anshuman Mondal—took us into even wider fields of humor studies, journalism, and the politics of free speech.

The breadth of different fields and approaches at the conference underscores the importance of this society.  Heresy studies cuts across disciplines and departmental silos in provocative ways, upsetting power structures and hierarchies like heresy itself always does.  A society that can bring together biblical and religious scholars, historians, literature scholars, artists, and even journalists, is a valuable one indeed.

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