I really need to do a round-up of all of the reams that have been poured out about the Catholic and otherwise Christian literary landscape since this site began and we pointed out a bunch of Catholic upstarts (not forgetting ourselves!). Without going into it all, though, see how much exposure has been gained as represented in this upcoming conference at USC.
“The Future of the Catholic Literary Imagination” will host the likes of Ron Hansen, Dana Gioia, Alice McDermott, and Tobias Wolff. It’s not until February 2015, so there’s plenty of time to decide on attendance. While you can’t register yet, you can sign up for updates using the form on the right-hand side, as I just did today.
The speaker line-up suggests we’ll get a fairly wide view of what people take the Catholic imagination to be, so expect some breadth. Mentioned here before, Dana Gioia is on record as thinking Christian artists of all stripes have “increasingly . . . ceded the arts to secular society,” which is particularly vexing for Catholicism: “the patron has become the pariah.” (See “Dana Gioia on ‘The Catholic Writer Today'” for more, including his interview in our sister publication, Catholic World Report.)
Also no stranger to our pages, Ron Hansen would be interesting to hear. A few years ago he had a sit-down conversation with Piers Paul Read—hosted by Ignatius Press on the publication of Read’s The Death of a Pope—on the conundrum of the Catholic novelist, which was very edifying but was also years before the controversy over the (debated) disappearance of the Catholic novel. His work, in my opinion, can straddle what Gregory Wolfe has termed the post-modern, complicated, mid-suspicion, “whispers” approach to faith in literature and the O’Connor-era “shouts”, dealing with it head-on and plainly (if strangely).
In any case, we’ll see how it shakes out. Again, give the conference a look. And happy reading!
P.S. Hansen also really liked Poor, Banished Children.