Queer and Trans Theologies in American Literature



November 17-20, 2022

The ARLS invites proposals for a panel that will focus on queer and trans theoretical approaches to the study of religion in American literature. In the U. S., religion and literature have historically been the principal sites of cultural work where dominant social norms are negotiated, reproduced, and resisted. Queer theory and trans studies are forms of critique that describe and disrupt this process, specifically, the production of normative categories of sexuality, gender, and embodiment. More broadly, these methods analyze the formation and function of all binary categories in society, and actively oppose such dualistic classifications. Recent scholarship has shown the value of applying the methods of queer theory and trans studies to the field of religious studies. This panel will examine works of literature that show how religion in America can destabalize heteronormativity and cisnormativity.

Papers may consider how norms concerning sexuality, gender, embodiment, desire, and affect are related to other foundational binary classifications in society such as sacred/profane, normal/deviant, virtue/vice, pure/dirty, material/immaterial. How are certain practices, rituals, and forms of embodiment rendered normal and sacred and others abject and profane? How are notions of sin, deviance, transgression, monstrosity, and perversion related to the maintenance of social norms? How are secularism, neoliberalism, and heteronormativity linked? We welcome papers that seek to queer the sacred/secular binary and question how this system of classification is related to forms of social inclusion and exclusion, to social recognition and social invisibility. How does American literature represent religious aspects of queer and trans embodiment? How does American literature challenge dominant ideas about the body, desire, and affect from a religious perspective? How does it bear witness to the religious regulation, disciplining, as well as liberation of the body? How do works of American literature express non-normative theologies of the body, sexuality, and the self? How do authors use religion to oppose dualistic norms and categories?

We welcome papers on American literature and print culture from any period. 

Please send abstracts to Andrew Ball ( by July 16.