Education and Arts

Addressing the Sacred through Literature and the Arts 2013

Friday 2 August - Saturday 3 August 2013

Australian Catholic University

25A Barker Road, Strathfield NSW 2135

An Invitation:

You are invited to attend 'Addressing the Sacred through Literature and the Arts', the second conference presented by The Sacred in Literature and the Arts (SLA), a community of interest that aims to bring Australian and international writers, artists, musicians, academics, religious and members of the public together for a fruitful dialogue about the interplay between the arts and the sacred. 

Definitions of the sacred extend from the narrow to the broad, from referring exclusively to a deity or religious ceremony to describing that mystery which is at the core of existence and has the power to transform our understanding of life. It is both a technical term used in the scholarly study of religion and a popular term used to describe something that is worthy of respect.

As artists we can explore our own sense of the sacred through our artwork. As audiences we can seek traces of the sacred in works of art. Through the act of interpretation we become co-creators, though what we perceive as the sacred may be far from that which inspired the original artist.

The conference will address acts of creation and co-creation and encourage a dialogue between artists, scholars and audiences in a mutual exploration of the sacred. At its heart is the idea that the sacred enables us to move beyond a utilitarian understanding of the world and infuses our everyday life with mystery.

Keynote Speakers and Program: 

Our keynote speakers are novelist, essayist and winner of the 2012 Patrick White Literary Award, Amanda Lohrey; poet, literary critic and philosopher of religion, Kevin Hart; and artist, curator and art historian, Rosemary Crumlin OAM.  Some 40 papers will be given on the sacred in architecture, film, literature, music, theology, and the visual arts. A list of speakers and paper-givers can be seen by clicking on 'Speakers' in the left-hand column of this page. The conference program can be viewed by clicking on 'Program'; the Program page leads you to the schedule of paper presentations on Saturday 3 August. 


Juno Gemes will introduce the exhibition Picturing Compassion: Liberation Prison Project she curated with Dean Sewell on Friday evening.  It will be showing in Computer Lab 1 throughout the conference.  

An exhibition of the woodblock prints of Falaka Yimer will be showing at the McGlade Gallery on Saturday. They will be introduced by the artist at 9:00 am that morning.


Details of the Saturday workshops presented by Anne Benjamin, Susan Murphy and Tracey Sanders can be viewed by clicking on 'Workshops' in the left-hand column of this page.  The workshops are included in the conference registration fee.  

Post-Graduate Seminar:

An on-campus seminar for post-graduate students from ACU and other universities will be held on the afternoon of Friday 2 August, with input from Kevin HartAngela McCarthy and Dermot Nestor. The seminar will encourage interdisciplinary discussion and networking for researchers in the arts, religion and spirituality. Post-graduate students can register for the seminar as a stand-alone event ($35) or as part of the Friday conference package ($40) or two-day package ($60). To register, click on 'Register' in the left-hand column of this page. Please register by 29 July.

Conference Registration:

There are various registration options, catering for people who are waged, unwaged (including concession card-holders and self-funding) and students. Bookings can be made for the two day package or for single days. To register, click on 'Register' in the left-hand column of this page. Please register by 29 July. If you are paying by cheque, please make the cheque payable to Australian Catholic University and mail it to Dr Elaine Lindsay, FAS, ACU, PO Box 968, North Sydney NSW 2059.

For NSW Teachers: ACU is a NSW Institute of Teachers endorsed provider of professional development. This Conference addresses the following teaching standards at Professional Competence: 1.2.1, 1.2.2, 1.2.3; 2.2.1, 2.2.3, 2.2.4; 4.2.1, 4.2.2, 4.2.3, 4.2.4.

Travel to the ACU Strathfield Campus:

Car parking is available on site on Friday (from 4:00 pm) and Saturday. View other transport options and campus maps. ACU runs a mini shuttle bus from the station on week days. If you decide to walk to the campus from Strathfield train station, allow a good 25 minutes.

Conference Convenor Contacts:

Michael Griffith, School of Arts and Sciences (NSW/ACT),

Elaine Lindsay, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, ACU,

Post-Graduate Seminar Convenor Contact:

Dermot Nestor, School of Theology, ACU, 

2013 Conference Committee:

Marcel de Maria, Michael Griffith, Elaine Lindsay, James Marland, Dermot Nestor, Jeannette Siebols.

Sponsored by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Australian Catholic University.  Financial support from the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund is gratefully acknowledged.

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