School of Religion

Unravelling Religion 2015

Projecting the Secular

An Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Conference

Held on 7 March, 2015 at School of Religion, Queen's University

Picture of students at registration for Unravelling Religion Conference

Religion, however it is defined, is entangled in aspects of daily life, popular culture, and political discourse. In this view, religious beliefs and practices constitute a common thread that runs through the fabric of human life, linking individuals to religious communities and to one another. At the same time, the term 'religion' is inextricably tied to other complex terms including 'culture' and especially 'the secular.' Far from being a discrete thread in the intricately woven fabric of human life, 'religion,' can become a tangled mess of meanings and associations whose strands are often twisted, knotted, and frayed.

Picture of Panel discussion at Unravelling Religion Conference

This year's conference sought to explore the ways both 'religion' and 'the secular' are deployed to describe individuals, groups, institutions, objects, places, and spaces. The conference had twenty one presenters. Panelists came from McGill, Concordia, Queen's, Carleton, University of Toronto, University of Ottawa, and the University of Regina.

Keynote Address by Dr. William Arnal, University of Regina

Dr. Arnal presented a lecture entitled Unravelling Christian Beginnings: Projecting the Secular on Ancient Gospels.

Picture of W Arnal at Unravelling Religion Conference

William Arnal is Professor and Head of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Regina. His research focuses mainly on Christian origins, with specific attention to the intellectual dimensions of early Christian literary production; secondarily, he has developed an interest in the political functions of contemporary religion, and the political implications of demarcating a realm of human doings as 'religious.' His articles have appeared in Method and Theory in the Study of Religion, Journal of Biblical Literature, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, and Harvard Theological Review, among others. His books include Jesus and the Village Scribes (2001), The Symbolic Jesus (2005), and The Sacred is the Profane (with Russell McCutcheon, 2013).

(All photos by Ian Cuthbertson)