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Biennial Conference on Religion and American Culture

Meetings & Conferences

Biennial Conference on Religion and American Culture

Proceedings from the Third Biennial Conference on Religion and American Culture now available

The Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture hosted the Third Biennial Conference on Religion and American Culture June 6-9, 2013, at the Sheraton Hotel City Centre in Indianapolis.

The Biennial Conference on Religion and American Culture, noted for its roundtable discussions where panelists sit at a table in the center of the room surrounded by scholars on risers, consists of a series of presentations by top scholars from a variety of perspectives. Nationally known scholars from different backgrounds participate in each session. “We continue to believe that a biennial conference dedicated to new perspectives and informed by various disciplines will reinvigorate the broader field of American religious studies,” said Philip Goff, Executive Director of the Reklisweb.jpgCenter. “We can and should learn from one another.”

To that end, the Third Biennial Conference consisted of seven sessions over a two-day period, opening with “Fifty Years of Non-Sectarian Study of Religion,” as June 2013 marked the 50th Anniversary of Abington v. Schempp. This decision declared required devotional Bible reading in public schools unconstitutional, and is generally regarded as the impetus for the development of religious studies programs in state-supported higher education. In the second session, panelists and participants considered “Space and Place,” and in the third and final session of the first day, which was held at the Indiana War Memorial, considered issues of “Belonging and Participation.”

The second day of the conference opened with two not-unrelated sessions, “Religion and Changing Technologies” and “Religion in Social Media.” Certainly not unrelated, conference participants were tweeting throughout the conference, and two participants, Cara Burnidge and and Christopher Cantwell, were thoughtful enough to “Storify” all of the tweets. Similarly, several participants posted blog entries after the conference, including Emily Suzanne Clark at Religion in American History and Charlie McCrary at The Junto.

The third session of the second day was devoted to discussions on the Bible in American Life. The Center has undertaken a project to study how people use the Bible in their daily lives, and the panelists, each of whom is an advisor to this project, drew on their own research in the area.

Last, but not least, the conference concluded with “The Future of the Study of American Religion,” with panelists and participants discussing where the field is going over the next two decades.

Proceedings from the Third Biennial Conference on Religion and American Culture may be downloaded here. As you will see, the speakers heeded the Center’s call to be provocative, to push further, to debate, to learn together. “Those in the audience threw themselves into each session with enthusiasm. Each session was spirited—animated by the shared desire to move the conversations that develop slowly in our books and journals to new levels of frankness and inter-disciplinarity,” said Goff.

Third Biennial Conference on Religion and American Culture

We are pleased to announce the Third Biennial Conference on Religion and American Culture, to be held at the Sheraton Indianapolis City Centre Hotel, June 6 through June 9, 2013. The overarching themes of this third biennial conference will be “thinking again about old topics” and “new developments.” Scholars from multiple perspectives will serve on multidisciplinary panels. Download the conference schedule now.

Like the conferences in 2009 and 2011, the room will be set up in a circle with audience members on risers around the central round table. This set-up promotes more participation from the audience and deeper conversation among the panelists and those surrounding them. The hotel is again conveniently located in downtown Indianapolis among restaurants, museums, and public parks--all very conducive to continuing over coffee and meals those conversations begun in sessions.

Thanks to a grant from Lilly Endowment, we have reserved a block of rooms at the Sheraton Indianapolis City Centre Hotel at the special rate of $79 per night. Once those rooms have sold out, rooms will be available at the going room rate, so please be sure to reserve your room right away. The Sheraton is offering a special self-parking rate of $10 per night, easily the best deal in town.

Early registration rates are available until May 22. These early rates are $90 for professionals and $50 for students. Registration after May 22 will be at the onsite rate of $120 for professionals and $70 for students.

To register for the conference and reserve your room, please visit our IU Conferences web page. (Note: the special hotel rate of $79 will not appear on the screen or on the automated response, but will be confirmed by a second email from the hotel.)