Book Chapter

The Future Of English Literature And Theology



Hass AW (2007) The Future Of English Literature And Theology. In: Hass A, Jasper D & Jay E (eds.) Oxford Handbook of English Literature and Theology. Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 841-858.;

FIRST PARAGRAPH: If we try to give scope and shape to the future of literature and theology, we must remain as speculative and open-ended as any prognostications about art and ideas. New creations, we all know, resist predictability, since they depend upon uncontrollable forces - an inspiration, a catastrophic event, an instant discovery, the rare emergence of genius. One can only forecast from what one knows about the present, and even then guardedly. It is therefore not the specifics of future religious thought, nor the emergence of some new form of literature, that we would dare to anticipate. Rather, we can only hope to offer more general observations about where we might see literature and theology as a defined field heading in the near future, observations that arise from certain discernible features of our contemporary culture. The following discussion will lay out four such general features: postsecularity, globalization, culturality, and interdisciplinarity. None of these must stand alone; each will intersect with the other at some level. Collectively they all become determinate of the space literature and theology, either as separate enterprises or as a joint entity, seem to be already filling. So what we intend to put forward here, at the end of a volume about the way literature and theology has emerged as a joint field of study within the Humanities, is not some programmatic approach to how scholarship in this field ought to be conducted, nor how artists interested in religion will necessarily ply their trade, nor how religions will make use of future literary productions, nor even how religion and art will once again seal their alliance. It is rather how several present phenomena or conditions will have some bearing on how we envision and practise a field that, in its very evolution, seems to be outstripping its own designations, "literature" and "theology". To this end, we will take our four categories as markers of a wider state for which literature and religion, from Milton to Blake to Joyce, has always heralded, if not embodied: those moments of paradigmatic shift when we humans rethink our relationship to the divine.

literature; future; post-secularity, globalization; culturality; interdisciplinarity; theology; Humanities

Title of seriesOxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology
Publication date15/03/2007
PublisherOxford University Press
Publisher URL…hb-9780199544486
Place of publicationOxford

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Dr Andrew Hass

Dr Andrew Hass

Reader, Religion