Armstrong Browning Library Hosts 19th-Century Studies Conference

19th century
March 14, 2016

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Contact: Lori Fogleman, (254) 710-6275

WACO, Texas (March 14, 2016) – Baylor University's Armstrong Browning Library will host an international conference on "The Uses of 'Religion' in 19th-Century Studies" from Wednesday, March 16, to Friday, March 19.

Twenty-four scholars from around the world will come together to present their work and examine how the category of "religion" was constructed and used in 19th-century literature and culture and how academics apply that category now.

"Scholars of 19th-century literature have, in the past 20 years, increasingly paid attention to historians, social scientists and scholars of religion who have examined how modern understandings of religion arose," said Josh King, Ph.D., associate professor of English and Margarett Root Brown Chair of Browning and Victorian Studies in Baylor's College of Arts and Sciences. "This interdisciplinary scholarship has revealed the degree to which modern ideas about 'religion' are not natural or universal categories of experience, but are in fact deeply entangled with historical developments peculiar to the West, and are continually undergoing revision depending on when, where and by whom the term 'religion' is used."

King said the 19th century is considered a crucial period in the formation and spread of concepts of religion, but scholars who study the literature and culture of the time period have lacked the forums needed to share and compare their insights into the subject.

"This conference is designed to provide such a venue by gathering together scholars of literature, history and religion," he said. "The wide-ranging collections in 19th-century materials at Armstrong Browning Library make it the perfect environment to host this significant academic event."

The conference is part of the 19th Century Research Seminar, or 19CRS, organized by King to host a series of monthly lectures from scholars of all disciplines that further participants' understanding of the 19th century.

Presentations will be organized into eight categories, including "Reframing Religion and the Body," "Forms of Conversion and Sanctity" and "Faith in Poetry." In addition to the scholars and presenters, five graduate students will discuss the presentations at a roundtable at the end of the conference.

"Hosting the top scholars in the field during this conference fulfills the mission of the collection of materials at Armstrong Browning Library and highlights the treasure it is for the university," said Pattie Orr, vice president for information technology and dean of University Libraries.

Orr said that having graduate students attend the sessions also will help extend the conversation beyond the conference.

"We look forward to hosting this group of world-renowned scholars," said Rita Patteson, director of Armstrong Browning Library. "Dr. Armstrong, the library's founder, imagined just this sort of intellectual engagement when he dreamed years ago of building this facility."

The conference is free and open to the public. Registration is required for those who are not on the program but plan to eat meals provided at the conference. Conference registration is available here.

The Armstrong Browning Library is located at 710 Speight Ave., Waco, Texas 76798.

by Jenna Press, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

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