Doubters, Believers, Seekers in Literature and Film
JULIAN PREECE AND FRANK FINLAY - Introduction 1
JULIAN PREECE AND FRANK FINLAY Introduction These essays were first delivered as papers at a colloquium held in Swansea in July 2008. The initial suggestion for religion as a colloquium topic, which came from Dieter Stolz, seemed apposite for a number of reasons. These circled around identity and conflict in much of Europe, not just Germany and Austria, and a clash, if such is the right word, between an intellectually secularised ‘host’ culture and perceptions of fundamentalist Islamic militancy. Our underlying assumption is that novels, plays, poetry, and films explore questions of faith and non-faith as well as transcendence and its lack in ways which other forms of more discursive writing cannot. Problems immediately became apparent, however. Whereas a topic like literature and politics, even in times ostensibly dominated by consensus on the major issues of the day, would have excited immediate interest, religion was not a theme which many non-believing participants initially felt comfortable with. Whether British or German, academics in our field tend to come from non-religious backgrounds with often only a rudimentary grounding in Christian teaching and the Bible. There is a sense common to the five essays in the middle of the volume, which concentrate on ‘white’ German writers, that both the literary critics and the writers and poets whose work they examine were obliged to reinvent a set of terms and concepts to address the most ancient of literary themes: God. It is at first sight more straightforward to discuss Jewish self-perception and Muslim identity...
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