Research area

Literature and Religion

Research strengths in the Literature and Religion group include theology from the medieval period to the present day, nineteenth-century and Modernist poetry, gender, postcolonialism and globalisation. Stephen Penn’s research focuses on the Latin writings of John Wyclif and his contemporaries; Wycliffite theology and late-medieval Latin and vernacular theological texts and treatises. His translation of John Wycliff will be published by MUP in 2014. Sabine Dedenbach-Salazar Saenz’s monograph, Entrelazando dos mundos: Experimentos y experiencias con el quechua de la cristianización en el Perú colonial, on the creation of a colonial Quechua verbal art was supported by an AHRC fellowship, and focuses on the translation of Christianity in colonial Peru. Angus Vine has recently joined the editorial team of OUP’s edition of Thomas Traherne, the seventeenth-century English poet and theologian. Neil Keeble’s AHRC and OUP Reliquiae Baxterianae [link to new page attached] project (2011-15) will provide a 5-volume edition of Richard Baxter’s 800-page folio Reliquiae Baxterianae (1696) – an unrivalled primary source for early modern historical, ecclesiastical, cultural and literary studies. The project supports a Stirling Research Fellow, Tom Charlton, who is based at the Dr. Williams’s Library. Kirstie Blair, Andrew Hass and Elizabeth Anderson share a concern for poetics and religious hermeneutics. Blair’s most recent monograph, Form and Faith in Victorian Poetry and Religion, was published by OUP. The book looks at formal worship, assessing the discourses of church architecture and liturgy, as well showing how debates about ecclesiastical practices were addressed by Victorian poets. Elizabeth Anderson joins the Division as a Stirling Impact Fellow, working on modernist women writers and the power of religious objects. Her first monograph, H.D. and Modernist Religious Writing: Mysticism and Writing, was published by Bloomsbury in 2013. Andrew Hass’s two recent monographs, Hegel and the Art of Negation: Negativity, Creativity and Contemporary Thought (IB Tauris 2013), and Auden’s O: The Loss of One's Sovereignty in the Making of Nothing (SUNY 2013) are situated at the intersection of several disciplines. In the first he argues that the notion of Hegelian negation moves us into an expansive territory where art, religion and philosophy may all be radically reconceived. The second is an interdisciplinary history of ideas that explores the ascendency of the concept of nothing into late modernity, taking Auden’s long poetic work, The Sea and the Mirror, as an exemplary manifestation of its implications. The group takes an open approach to the definition of literature and religion, discussing a wide range of texts and discourses. Tim Fitzgerald’s emphasis on the origins and globalising dimensions of religious discourses and their categorical links is central to this ‘Critical Religion’ approach. His books, The Ideology of Religious Studies (2000) and Religion and Politics in International Relations: The Modern Myth (2011) question the role and place of religion and the religious in contemporary discourses. This interrogation of religious categories is followed in the group’s postcolonial and gender research. Michael Marten’s recent articles focus on transnational interactions, and in particular on Scottish missions to Palestine in the 19th and early 20th centuries, seeking to explore issues of reculturation, identity and alterity. His current research centres on the ways in which, in relation to Mandate Palestine, understandings of gender (especially within churches) crossed national and cultural boundaries between Europe and the Middle East. Alison Jasper’s research and recent monograph, Because of Beauvoir: Christianity and the Cultivation of Female Genius, analyses female subjectivity in relation to feminist philosophy, novelists and theologians. Jasper is also engaged in a Carnegie-funded project with John I’Anson in the School of Education to interview teachers and other stakeholders in education with a view to generating critical discussions about the ‘world religions’ paradigm. Andrew Hass edits the journal, Literature and Theology, and more information about Critical Religion approaches can be found at and Recent symposia, conferences and events include: ‘Translating Christianities’, ‘”Religion” and its Constructions’, ‘Modernity and the Category of Religion’ (with Aberdeen), a Stirling, Aberdeen and London public lecture tour for Prof Naomi Goldenberg (Ottawa), ‘Theory, Poetics and Religious Things’, and the annual Literature and Theology lecture series organised by Hass with external partners has included Geoffrey Hartman, Toril Moi, and Kevin Hart.

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