George MacDonald Bicentenary Conference (UK)

Borderlands: George MacDonald Between Worlds

After the success of our North American Bicentenary Conference at Wheaton Colllege, Illinois we are now turning our attention to the sister event at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland later this year. Information will be added here as it becomes available.

We are hoping that on Sunday, 10th November there will also be an optional excursion to a place of MacDonald interest.

If you want to indicate interest and be informed when Registration opens we have set up a Google form to facilitate this.

Confirmed Keynotes include

Paul Fiddes

Paul Fiddes

Paul S. Fiddes is Professor of Systematic Theology in the University of Oxford, and a Fellow of the British Academy. He is the Emeritus Principal (President) of Regent’s Park College, and an Honorary Fellow of St. Peter’s College, Oxford. At present he directs an inter-faith research project on ‘Love in Religion’ based in Oxford, with Muslim and Jewish collaborators. He has written or edited over 30 books and 150 articles, and has also published a novel, A Unicorn Dies. He has a particular interest in the interface between theology and literature, and three recent books are Iris Murdoch and the Others: A Writer in Dialogue with Theology (Bloomsbury, 2021), Charles Williams and C. S. Lewis: Friends in Co-Inherence (Oxford University Press, 2021), More Things in Heaven and Earth: Shakespeare, Theology and the Interplay of Texts (University of Virginia Press, 2022).

Alison Millbank

Alison Millbank

Alison Milbank is Professor of Theology and Literature at the University of Nottingham, having taught previously at the Universities of Virginia and Cambridge. She is particularly interested in literature that questions the limits of the material world, particularly the Gothic from Daughters of the House: Modes of the Gothic in Victorian Literature (Macmillan, 1992) to God and the Gothic: Religion, Romance and Realism in the English Literary Tradition (Oxford University Press, 2018). Her monograph, Dante and the Victorians (Manchester University Press, 1998 & 2007) examines George MacDonald’s employment of the Commedia in imagining a positive purgatorial afterlife, while MacDonald is also shown to be an influence on Tolkien in her Chesterton and Tolkien as Theologians: The Fantasy of the Real (T & T Clark, 2007). She has a strong interest in ecclesiology, with For the Parish: A Critique of Fresh Expressions(SCM, 2010), co-written with Andrew Davison and more recently, The Once and Future Parish(SCM, 2023) and is currently working on a genealogy of Anglican eco-theology and divine immanence from the Scientific Revolution onwards.

Mark Knight

Mark Knight

Mark Knight is Head of Department and Professor of Literature, Religion, and Victorian Studies in the Department of English Literature and Creative Writing at Lancaster University. He edits the journal Literature and Theology and has published several books on literature and religion in the long-nineteenth century. Currently, he is editing The Cambridge Companion to Religion in Victorian Literary Culture and writing a monograph on Oscar Wilde and religion.

Other speakers

Malcolm Guite

Malcolm Guite

Malcolm Guite (PhD, Durham) is the President of the George MacDonald Society. Life Fellow and former Chaplain at Girton College, Cambridge, he teaches and lectures internationally on theology, literature, and the arts – with MacDonald, Coleridge, and the Inklings as frequent features. Also a musician and a poet, Malcolm has published multiple anthologies, and many of his poems have been set to song. His current work – an Arthurian epic, Merlin’s Isle: The Grail Sequence – found some of its inspiration in Phantastes. Malcolm is especially interested in the imagination as a truth-bearing faculty, as evidenced in his most recent collection of short essays, Sounding Heaven and Earth (2023). Other of his publications include Faith, Hope and Poetry, Mariner: A Voyage with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Lifting the Veil: Imagination & the Kingdom of God.

Daniel Gabelman

Daniel Gabelman (PhD, St Andrews) is Head of English at King's Ely in Cambridge. He is the author of George MacDonald: Divine Carelessness and Fairytale Levity (Baylor UP; Mythopoeic Award Finalist) and the academic representative of the George MacDonald Society. He is currently co-editing two volumes of essays on MacDonald: one will be available for the first time at the Wheaton conference (Unsaying the Commonplace: George MacDonald and the Critique of Convention, co-edited with Amanda Vernon, Winged Lion Press) while the other (The Cambridge Companion to George MacDonald, co-edited with John Patrick Pazdziora) will help bring MacDonald into the mainstream of academic teaching and discourse. As a defender of light and playful things, he is also co-editing a new series with Cambridge UP on 'Doodles and Doodling' and has a forthcoming book in this series entitled Literary Doodling (2024).

Kirstin Jeffrey Johnson

Kirstin Jeffrey Johnson (PhD, St Andrews) is a MacDonald scholar who also stewards a farm and ecology site in the Ottawa Valley, Canada. She writes and lectures internationally on MacDonald, the 19th century, Inklings, and Faith & the Arts. Co-editor of Informing the Inklings (Mythopoeic Award finalist), she has assisted numerous ‘MacDonald & Inklings’ translation projects, and written introductions to such works as the new graphic novel of The Golden Key and the illustrated Lilith. Kirstin directs the ‘Theology, Ecology, & the Arts’ programmes of Windstone Linlathen, is on the Advisory Boards of journals VII and NorthWind, the Board of the C.S. Lewis & Kindreds Society of Eastern & Central Europe, and is co-chair of the George MacDonald Society.

Call for Papers

For almost two centuries, George MacDonald has delighted and challenged his readers through his short stories, novels, essays, fairy tales, poetry, and sermons. MacDonald plays with and transgresses boundaries between the quotidian and the fantastical, theology and literature, home and abroad, secular and sacred, life and death. His identity as a Scotsman in England positioned his relationships and writings between the worlds of English literature and Scottish literature.

As a champion of the arts, the musicality and visuality of his texts merged mediums and inspired new vistas. His liminality plays out through his literary interpreters and successors, in the past and in the present, within the narrow world of MacDonald studies and in the broader ways his ideas and stories shape thinking in literature and theology as well as science, theater, fine arts, history, social justice, and education.

You are invited to submit proposals for papers and panels on the theme of Borderlands for this conference marking the bicentennial of George MacDonald’s birth. Special consideration will be given to papers that explore liminality in George MacDonald’s writings and/or in his identity as a writer, theologian, father, friend. Please submit proposals of no more than 250 words using this form by 15th July 2024

Proposals should be submitted in MS Word or PDF as a one-page, double-spaced abstract prepared for blind review. Panel proposals should indicate the theme of the panel and include all of the proposed panel abstracts together. Accepted papers will be considered for a special edition of The Scottish Literary Review (

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