Keynote Speakers

Shumon Basar is a writer, editor and curator. He’s the co-author of The Age of Earthquakes: A Guide to the Extreme Present, with Douglas Coupland and Hans Ulrich Obrist. Together with Coupland and Obrist, he co-curated the large scale exhibition Age of You at the Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto and Jameel Arts Centre Dubai, which previewed their following book, The Extreme Self. His (co)edited books include Drone Fiction, Translated By, Hans Ulrich Obrist Interviews: Volume 2The World of Madelon VriesendorpDid Someone Say Participate?With/Without and Cities from Zero. Shumon is Editor at Large at Tank magazine and Contributing Editor at Bidoun. He is Commissioner of the Global Art Forum, an annual transdisciplinary summit held at Art Dubai; a member of Fondazione Prada’s “Thought Council”; and has also been Adjunct Curator at Art Jameel. 

Basar’s keynote for the conference is titled ‘From the Extreme Present to the Extreme Self‘.

Photo credit: Christian Klant.


Victoria Camblin is a writer, editor, art historian, and curator. She is the executive editor of 032c Magazine in Berlin, Germany. Camblin attended Columbia University, New York, and the University of Cambridge, UK. She is the former editor and artistic director of Art Papers, based in Atlanta, Georgia. She is a recipient of DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) and Robert Rauschenberg Foundation fellowships, and was the 2009–2012 Leslie Wilson Major Scholar at Magdalene College, Cambridge. Camblin’s graduate work centered on the avant-garde illustrated periodicals created in Paris during the interwar period—specifically the editorial work of Georges Bataille and the publication Acéphale. Her curatorial projects include the 2016 Atlanta Biennial, curated alongside Daniel Fuller, Aaron Levi Garvey, and Gia Hamilton. 

Camblin’s keynote for the conference is titled “When Words are Pictures“.


Bran Nicol is Professor of English Literature and Head of the School of Literature and Languages at the University of Surrey, UK. His main interests are in modern and contemporary British, European and American fiction, literary theory, and ‘crime culture’. His books include The Private Eye (Reaktion, 2013), Postmodern Fiction: An Introduction (Cambridge University Press, 2009), and Stalking (Reaktion, 2006), which was translated into Italian, Japanese and Korean, Iris Murdoch: The Retrospective Fiction (Palgrave, second edition, 2004),and two edited collections: Postmodernism and the Contemporary Novel (Edinburgh University Press, 2002) and Crime Culture (Bloomsbury, 2010). 

Professor Nicol’s keynote for the conference is titled ‘Fiction in the Age of Smupidity’.


Other Speakers

Lisa Ann Cockrel is director of programs for Image and has been curating conversations between writers and readers—in person, in print, online, and via multimedia—for more than 20 years. Previous roles include associate editor for Christianity Today, managing editor for Brazos Press, and director of the Festival of Faith & Writing. Her own writing has been featured in places including The Hedgehog ReviewBooks & Culture, and The Isolation Journals. 


George Cox recently submitted his PhD in American Studies at the University of Nottingham, funded by the Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership. His project, Platformalism: Finding the Forms of Platform Literature, uncovers the print predecessors of platform-based literary works including Twitter fiction, Netflix interactive movies and YouTube performance poetry. His article “Archived Bards,” on YouTube poetry, was published last year in C21 Literature.


Dr Michael Crilly is a partner / director at Studio UrbanArea LLP, an urban design & town planning partnership based in Newcastle upon Tyne. He is also a part time senior lecturer in Architecture and Built Environment at Northumbria University and a tutor in urban design at Newcastle University. His design and planning work has a sustainable, ethical and community focus, providing project support for neighbourhood planning, urban design, public art, community development and applied research into low / zero carbon developments.


David Dark is Associate Professor of Religion and the Arts at Belmont University. He is the author of Everyday Apocalyse, The Possibility of America, and Life’s Too Short To Pretend You’re Not Religious. He is currently working on Explain All These Controls: U2 and the Inner America with University of Texas Press.


Dr. Diletta De Cristofaro is a Research Fellow at Northumbria University, UK. She writes about contemporary culture, crises, and the politics of time. She is the author of The Contemporary Post-Apocalyptic Novel: Critical Temporalities and the End Times (Bloomsbury, 2020). Her essays have appeared in journals like Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fictionboundary 2 online, and Open Library of Humanities, and in edited collections published by Palgrave and Cambridge University Press.


Makoto Fujimura is a contemporary artist, writer, and speaker. Educated in the US and Japan, his work is a fusion of abstract expressionism and traditional Japanese Nihonga painting. Fujimura’s art has been featured widely in galleries around the world, including the permanent collections of The Museum of Contemporary Arts in Tokyo, the Huntington Library, and Tikotin Museum in Israel. A Presidential appointee to the National Council on the Arts from 2003-2009, he served as an international advocate for the arts, speaking with decision makers and advising governmental policies on the arts. In 1992, Fujimura founded the International Arts Movement. His books include Refractions: A Journey of Faith, Art, and CultureSilence and Beauty: Hidden Faith Born of SufferingCulture Care: Reconnecting With Beauty for Our Common Life; and the forthcoming Art & Faith: A Theology of Making.


Niall Gallen is an AHRC funded doctoral candidate in English Literature at the University of Birmingham. In his PhD thesis, Niall traces a cultural genealogy of accelerationism, which is the controversial insistence that the best answer to capitalism is accelerating its “radical” tendencies. His interdisciplinary research involves exploring the connections between J.G. Ballard, Eduardo Paolozzi, and the Independent Group (1952-56). He engages with how their interrelated turns to popular culture express a repeat tendency to subvert institutions from within. He is also a co-director of the Contemporary Theoretical Network (Ctrl Network), an international network for readers of theory. 


Zachary Gordon is a graduate student of theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, where is the recipient of the President’s Merit Award scholarship and works with Dr. Jens Zimmermann as a teaching assistant and coordinator for the “Human Flourishing in a Technological World” project, financed by the Issachar Fund. He is primarily interested in theories of re-enchantment and the postsecular as they intersect with religious and literary studies.


Rev. Seth Greenham is passionate about creating diverse communities that help university students develop a complementary relationship between vocation and spirituality and mobilize students into global service. He loved to study the relationship between culture and faith while at Regent College. Currently, he is the University Christian Ministries Director for the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada BC & Yukon District. Before serving in his current position, Seth worked for 20 years as the Pentecostal Chaplain at Simon Fraser University.


Glenn Grigsby, a lifelong resident of the Washington DC Metropolitan Area, is a Risk Analyst and current graduate student enrolled in Georgetown University’s Communications, Culture, and Technology program. In a previous life, he worked at a political direct advertising & fundraising firm, and as a coordinator for summer camps for children and adolescents with disabilities and alternative spring break programs for college students. As an individual with congenital severe/profound high-frequency sensorineural hearing loss, he is interested in non-verbal/online communication and community building.


Sammy Holden is a freelance filmmaker and currently a MA Film Studies student at the University of Manchester, with a PGCE in Further Education & Training, specialising in Film & Media.


Nick Hubble is Professor of Modern and Contemporary English at Brunel University London. They are the author of Mass-Observation and Everyday Life (2006) and The Proletarian Answer to the Modernist Question (2017), and one of the editors of Bloomsbury Academic’s Decades of British Fiction Series (2014-). Nick reviews science fiction for various publications, including Strange Horizons and the Los Angeles Review of Books, and is one of the judges for the 2021 Arthur C. Clarke Award.


Dr. Joseph G. Kickasola is Professor of Film and Digital Media at Baylor University. He specializes in film theory, embodied aesthetics, and religion and film, and is the author of “The Films of Krzysztof Kieślowski: The Liminal Image” (winner of the 2006 Spiritus Award). He has published widely in academic and popular venues, and edited a special issue of the journal Religions, dedicated to “Film and Lived Theology.”  He has also taught Theology and Film at Princeton Seminary and directed and produced video projects for international distribution. He lives in New York City, where he directs the Baylor in New York Program.


Dr. Linda Levitt teaches communication and media studies at Stephen F. Austin State University. Her primary research sits at the intersection of memory studies and media, considering media’s role in shaping understandings of the past. She has published essays in Participations, Radical History Review, and Velvet Light Trap, along with book chapters in edited academic collections. Levitt’s book, Culture, Celebrity, and the Cemetery: Hollywood Forever, was published by Routledge in 2018.


Dr. Declan Lloyd is a post-doc associate lecturer in the literature and art departments at Lancaster University. His main research areas of interest are in the liminalities of literature and art, particularly in the period of Modernism and beyond. His writing has appeared in journals such as Vector, Foundation and he has an upcoming piece on the presence of art and orality in Gertrude Stein’s poetry for Modernism-Modernity.


Dr. Mary McCampbell is an associate professor of humanities at Lee University, USA. Her academic publications focus on the relationship between contemporary fiction, late capitalist culture, and the religious impulse. She also writes on theology and the arts for publications such as Image JournalThe Curator, and The Other Journal. Her first book, Imagining Our Neighbors as Ourselves: Empathy, The Arts, and the Religious Imagination is coming out in Fall 2021.


Dr. Jessica McDonald is a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of English at Simon Fraser University. Her doctoral work studied the spatial politics of Douglas Coupland’s fiction and non-fiction, and her postdoctoral research expands on that work by exploring so-called non-places (in particular, airports, chain stores, and roads) in the broader literatures of contemporary Canada. She is also the host of Teachin’ Books, a podcast about the ways people teach, learn, and work with literature.


Matthew Nelson is a doctoral candidate in Divinity at the University of St. Andrews, and is currently writing a thesis examining the theological implications of Thomas Pynchon’s fiction in relation to the Gothic tradition. He holds degrees in philosophy and theology and has previously worked as a film producer and hospital chaplain (Clinical Pastoral Education).


Meghan O’Gieblyn writes essays and features for Harper’s MagazineThe New Yorker, The Guardian, Wired, The New York Times, and elsewhere. Her work has received three Pushcart Prizes and appeared in The Best American Essays anthology. She is also the author of the essay collection Interior States, which won the Believer Book Award for Nonfiction. Her forthcoming book God, Human, Animal, Machine will be published in August of 2021.


Dr. Julia Polyck-O’Neill is an artist, curator, critic, poet, and writer. A former visiting lecturer at the Obama Institute at Johannes Gutenberg Universität Mainz (2017-18) in Germany, she is currently a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Postdoctoral Fellow at the Sensorium Centre for Digital Arts and Technology at York University (Toronto).


Nick Ripatrazone is the culture editor for Image, a contributing editor at The Millions, and a columnist for Literary Hub. He has written about poetry, religion, books, and culture for Rolling StoneGQThe AtlanticThe Paris Review, Commonweal, and Esquire. He is also the author of two books Longing for an Absent God: Faith and Doubt in Great American Fiction and Wild Belief: Poets and Prophets in the Wilderness.


Bryana Russell is the curator of the Dal Schindell Gallery and arts administration at Regent College, her alma mater. She holds a Masters of Theological Studies with a concentration in Christianity and the Arts. Her research interests include embodiment, dance, the importance of matter and the theology of art. Ms. Russell is currently curating a year-long online exhibition by Douglas Coupland entitled, The Whale with Jonah.


Dr. Andrew Tate is Reader in Literature, Religion and Aesthetics in the Department of English Literature & Creative Writing at Lancaster University, UK. His books include Douglas Coupland (2007), Contemporary Fiction and Christianity (2008), The New Atheist Novel (co-authored with Arthur Bradley, 2010) and, most recently, Apocalyptic Fiction (2017). 


Rev Dr Steve Taylor is a public scholar, working for AngelWings Ltd in research consultancy, writing and speaking. He maintains academic accountability as Senior Lecturer, Flinders University and Honorary Lecturer, Aberdeen University. He has previously held academic leadership roles, including Principal, Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership; Principal, Post-graduate Co-ordinator and Director of Missiology, Uniting College of Leadership and Theology; Senior Pastor, Opawa Baptist; Senior Lecturer, Laidlaw College and Pastor, Graceway Baptist Church. Steve is author of 3 books, 36 published academic outputs and over 215 public writing pieces, including since 2005 as a monthly film reviewer for Touchstone magazine.


Sarah Wagstaffe is a PhD candidate in English Literature studying at Lancaster University. Her research examines psychology, religion, politics, and gender in contemporary fiction. She also holds a Master’s degree in English Literary Research which focuses on dystopian fiction.


Tony Watkins is a part-time doctoral student in practical theology, exploring how contemporary media may be brought into dialogue with the Old Testament prophets. He is an adjunct faculty member at NLA University College, Norway, in communications and worldviews, and a visiting lecturer at Cliff College, UK, in cultural theology. He has been researching, writing, speaking on media and the Bible for 25 years. He is the author of Dark Matter: A Thinking Fan’s Guide to Philip Pullman (2004) and Focus: The Art and Soul of Cinema (2007), and co-author or editor of seven other books.