2019 Catholic Imagination Conference

The Third Biennial Catholic Imagination Conference
The Future of the Catholic Literary Tradition
Loyola University Chicago | September 19-21, 2019

Catholic Imagination Conference Program
Conference Archive and Media

-Free to students; no registration required-

This international biennial conference, sponsored by Loyola’s Hank Center, featured over 80 writers, poets, filmmakers, playwrights, journalists, editors, publishers, students, and critics who explored a variety of questions surrounding the Catholic imagination in literature and the arts. What is the future of the Catholic literary tradition? What is the state of discourses in faith and Christian humanism in a world increasingly described as “Post”—postmodern, post-human, post-Christian, post-religious? How is Catholic thought and practice (or the absence of it) represented in literature, poetry, and cinema? If, as David Tracy observes, religion’s “closest cousin is not rigid logic, but art,” what might literary art be trying to communicate to its “cousin”—and to us all—as we travel along the first decades of the 21st century?

All Were Welcome

The Biennial Catholic Imagination Conference is unique in that it appeals to lay person and scholar alike. Honoring the Ignatian premise that all people are hungry for substantive and integrated thought and encounter, concurrent panel sessions are designed so that all conference guests will find something of interest and edification. Some sessions will appeal to more general readers and thinkers while others will pique the interest of trained scholars and specialists. Likewise, the plenary addresses (readings, conversations, and even a play) will have broad appeal. From students to book club participants, from scholars to artists and practitioners: the Biennial CIC had something for everybody and all are welcome!

Plenary Speakers

Paul Mariani
Poet, biographer
Tobias Wolff
Alice McDermott
Paul Schrader
Writer, director, film critic
Richard Rodriguez
Dana Gioia
Poet, critic
Angela Alaimo O'Donnell
Poet, writer, Fordham University professor


Kirstin Valdez Quade | Phil Klay | Fanny Howe
Ron Hansen | Mary Gordon | Samuel Hazo
Dorothy Fortenberry | John F. Deane | Paul Elie
Patricia Hampl | Molly McCully Brown | Randy Boyagoda
Lawrence Joseph | James Matthew Wilson
Dana Greene | Gregory Wolfe | Brigid Pasulka

and many other writers, poets, filmmakers & scholars.

Special Events

  • The Flannery O'Connor Lifetime Achievement Award Banquet honoring Paul Mariani (registration required)
  • The Hunt Prize Banquet for excellence in poetry (in conjunction with America Media--registration required)
  • Theatre Performance: Flannery O'Connor's Everything That Rises Must Converge. Developed at University of Iowa in 1998, Sundance in 1999 and then opened off-Broadway in 2001. Set in September for the Newhart Family Theatre at LUC.
  • The Troubadour's Lounge featuring poetry readings, live music, and a Chicago blues panel
  • Preconference workshops and presentations for and by graduate students and emerging scholars (no registration required)

Call For Papers

Thursday, September 19th was dedicated to pre-conference sessions for graduate students, creative writers, and early career scholars and teachers in their 20s and 30s. See the full call for papers for more details. Proposals were due on June 15, 2019.

Thank you to our generous cosponsors:

The Mary Flannery O'Connor Charitable Trust (Major Cosponsor)
Loyola University Chicago: President's Office, Office of Mission Integration, Gannon Center for Women and Leadership, College of Arts and Sciences, Institute of Pastoral Studies, Department of History, University Libraries, and the Jesuit Community

America Media | Commonweal Magazine | Georgetown University | Dominican University
Curran Center, Fordham University | Boisi Center, Boston College 
McGrath Institute, University of Notre Dame | de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture, University of Notre Dame
IFACS, The University of Southern California | Pepperdine University | USA Midwest Province Jesuits
Loyola Academy | St. Ignatius College Prep | The Lumen Christi Institute | The Polish Book Institute
The Bernardin Center at Catholic Theological Union | Saint Thomas More Chapel & Center at Yale University
Wipf and Stock Publishers | Slant Books