An Unusual CFP for Unusual Times
February 19-21, 2021
As we’ve all watched the events of COVID-19 unfold, I’ve wondered for months what QTSR 2021 would look like. Many of us were looking forward excitedly to our next in-person meeting, after having a smaller but successful – and, in retrospect, strikingly prescient – online meeting in 2020.
Unfortunately, it seems necessary at this point to affirm that we will be meeting online again in 2021. The following year, 2022, was slated to be online, but perhaps we might look to a hybrid model, if public health conditions allow, and go fully in-person again in 2023.
So my current task is to figure out what this conference should look like in 2021, and here’s where I would really like your input – and the input of anyone else in this subfield, so please do forward this call widely, post the request online, etc. (I’m on Twitter and Facebook – @melissamwilcox and Melissa M. Wilcox).
Some conferences have gone online and optional, with those presenters interested in maintaining their sessions invited to arrange the sessions themselves. Others, the AAR/SBL in particular, have gone all-in and decided that the pandemic offers an opportunity to explore the innovative possibilities of online conferencing. We have those options, but I’m thinking in another direction. Because many of us are pulled in many different directions right now – improving our online teaching or learning it for the first time, creating and engaging with other online conferences, caring for children or elders, trying to keep careers afloat and research moving forward in a frighteningly uncertain economy – I’m inclined not to offer yet another “just like in person” conference. Preparing for a conference is stressful enough without a pandemic, and QTSR is designed to support scholars in the field, not to add further burden.
What I would like to do, instead, is to make QTSR an opportunity for whatever our scholarly community needs. On the weekend of February 19-21, 2021, let’s make space online for informal conversations, one-off mentoring, paper workshops, creative expression, protest, rage, grief, exhaustion, fear, joy, hope, and whatever else we collectively and individually need.
To that end, I am not asking for formal proposals but for informal communications. What do you need? What would you like to see? If you want to present a paper, send me a title and abstract. If you want a workshop, send me some ideas about what it might look like. If you know what you need but not how to make it happen, or you know what you need but don’t want to be the one to organize it, tell me that. Be as formal or informal as you like. Let’s make our conference – our communal gathering as a subfield, as scholars, as people – a space of support and strength for all of us who need that at this time.
I am planning no keynotes for this conference, and there will be no registration fee. Let’s just get together as best we can. What does that look like for you? Let me know when you get a chance.
Melissa M. Wilcox
Holstein Family and Community Chair of Religious Studies
University of California, Riverside