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Past Lectures

religion and the arts



Re/Imagining the Sacred: Theism, Anatheism, Atheism - A Conversation between James Wood and Richard Kearney

Thursday November 18, 2010, 7:00 PM in Devlin 101.

New Yorker literary critic and celebrated author James Wood, and Professor Richard Kearney, Charles B. Seelig Chair, Philosophy Department, will discuss Kearney's newest book, Anatheism.

Sponsored by the Institute of Contemporary Art, the Guestbook Project, the Boston College Philosophy Department, the Boston College English Department, and Religion and the Arts.



"Interpreting God's Word in Paradise Lost"

Barbara Lewalski

March 10, 2010

Location: Heights Room, Corcoran Commons

Milton scholar Barbara Lewalski, the William R. Keenan Professor of English at Harvard University, presents a paper titled “Milton and the World of God: Issues of Interpretation in the Bible and in Paradise Lost.”


"Sex, Politics, and Religion, or, How I Turned My Undergraduate Thesis into a Pulitzer Prize-Winning Biography"
Debby Applegate
Thursday, November 29, 2007, 4:30 PM
Location: Gasson 305

Debby Applegate discovered Henry Ward Beecher, the scandalous nineteenth-century preacher, in the archives at Amherst College when she was an undergraduate and made him the subject of her American Studies dissertation at Yale, where she earned her Ph.D. in 1998.  She spent a decade reworking her academic analysis into a lively narrative that performs the delicate balancing act of appealing to a general audience while also contributing to scholarly debates about the culture of celebrity, the evolution of American Protestantism, and the history of print media.  In addition to winning the Pulitzer Prize, The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher was named one of the best books of the year by the New York Times Book Review, NPR's Fresh Air, and the Washington Post.

Her talk is sponsored by the American Studies Program, the History Department, Religion and the Arts, the Theology Department, and the College of Arts and Sciences.

"From 'Gothic' to 'Medieval': Revising Attitudes to the Middle Ages"
Michael Alexander
Wednesday, October 3, 2007, 4:30 PM
Location: Higgins 300

Michael Alexander is the author of many influential books, including Medievalism: The Middle Ages in Modern England; Beowulf: A Verse Translation; and The Poetic Achievement of Ezra Pound.

"Shakespeare and the Cause of English Catholicism"
Clare Asquith
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Location: Higgins 300

Asquith is the author of the widely review Shadowplay: The Hidden Beliefs and Coded Politics of William Shakespeare (2005), which argued persuasively the importance of Shakespeare's Catholic contexts, and, more controversially, the presence of hidden Catholic codes in the plays.  Her work is now at the heart of current debates about Shakespeare's Catholic orientation.

"Jesuits, Biblical Exegesis, and the Mathematical Sciences in the Early Modern Period"
Dr. Volker R. Remmert
Thursday, April 12, 2007, 4:30 PM
Location: Gasson 305

Dr. Remmert is a lecturer in the history of science and history of mathematics at the University of Mainz. Author of Galileo, God and Mathematics, among other books, and, most recently, Dedications, Explanations of the World, and the Legitimization of Science: The Functions of Frontispieces During the Scientific Revolution (in German).

"Are All Values Relative? Thinking About Objective Values in Ethics, Art, and Religion in a Pluralist World of Conflicting Beliefs"
Robert Kane
Tuesday, April 17, 2007, 4:30 PM
Location: Gasson 305

Prof. Kane is university distinguished teaching professor of philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin, where he has received fifteen major teaching awards, and editor of The Oxford Handbook of Free Will. He is the author of many books, including Free Will and Values; Through the Moral Maze: Searching for Absolute Values in a Pluralistic World; and The Significance of Free Will, winner of the Robert W. Hamilton Faculty Book Award.

"Erotic Spirituality and the Book of Jonah"
T. Anthony Perry
Thursday, April 19, 2007, 4:30 PM
Location: Gasson 305
Co-sponsored by the Jewish Studies Program at Boston College

Prof. Perry is a famed biblical critic and literary scholar, formerly professor of romance languages at the University of Connecticut and Fullbright professor of Jewish studies at Hebrew University. His many books include Dialogues with Kohelet and, most recently, The Honeymoon Is Over: Jonah's Argument with God.


"Shakespeare the Papist"
Peter Milward, S. J.
Monday, March 20, 2006, 4:30 P.M.
Fulton 230

Peter Milward, S. J., an English Jesuit, is the great twentieth century pioneering scholar of Shakespeare's Catholic Background. His Shakespeare's Religious Background (1973) was a landmark volume in the field, as were his two volumes of The Religious Controversies of the Elizabethan Age (1977) and the Jacobean Age (1978). His new book, Shakespeare the Papist (2005), is Milward's climactic achievement in Shakespeare studies, an application of the background of English Catholicism to Shakespeare's works, the definitive work on the subject. Milward is also being honored for the special collection of his works now assembled at Burns Rare Book Library.

"What Death Is For: Mortality in Philosophy, Art, Political Theory, and Religion"
Joseph Bottum
Monday, March 27, 2006, 4:30 P.M.
Fulton 230
Sponsored by the journal, Religion and the Arts

Joseph Bottum, who holds a PhD in philosophy from Boston College, is a widely recognized essayist, poet, lecturer, memoirist, and media commentator. He was Poetry Editor at the prestigious monthly First Things before moving to Washington to become arts & culture editor at the Weekly Standard where, among other things, he composed and assigned reviews of museum exhibitions; books; theatrical, musical, and dance performances; and other cultural events. He has made a number of radio and TV appearances, including giving a series of interviews on Catholic novelists. Last year, Dr. Bottum returned to NYC as Editor of First Things, recently publishing works by Cardinals Schonborn & Dulles, Gilbert Meilander & Robert George (both of the President's Council on Bioethics) and Pope Benedict XVI, among others. He works closely with Fr. Richard Neuhaus at First Things, regularly contributes to the Institute on Religion & Public Life's Ramsey, Dulles, & Erasmus colloquia, and is becoming one of America's leading public intellectuals.


"Poetry and Revelation: Hopkins, Counter-Experience and Reductio"
Kevin Hart, Professor of English, University of Notre Dame
Tuesday, November 1, 2005, 4:30 P.M.
Connolly House, Boston College
Introduced by Richard Kearney

Professor Hart is the author of The Dark Gaze: Maurice Blanchot and the Sacred, The Trespass of the Sign: Deconstruction, and Philosophy, Samuel Johnson and the Culture of Property, and other books. He has published seven collections of poetry. He is a foremost theorist in the area of deconstruction and religion.

"The Intolerability of Catholics in Early Modern England"
Arthur Marotti, Professor of English, Wayne State University
Friday, November 11, 2005, 3:00 P.M.
Connolly House, Boston College
Sponsored also by the English Department

Professor Marotti is the author of Catholicism and Anti-Catholicism in Early Modern English Texts (ed.), Manuscript, Print, and the English Renaissance Lyric, John Donne, Coterie Poet, and most recently Religious Ideology and Cultural Fantasy: Catholic and Anti-Catholic Discourses in Early Modern England. He is a renowned scholar in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English literature, and one of the pioneers of a new understanding of the relation of Literature and religious culture in the early modern period.

"Life Stories: Presumption, Contingency, Hope"
Alan Jacobs, Professor of English, Wheaton College, Illinois
Monday, November 21, 2005, 4:30 P.M.
Connolly House, Boston College

Professsor Jacobs is the author of A Theology of Reading: The Hermeneutics of Love, A Visit to Vanity Fair and Other Moral Essays, What Became of Wystan: Change and Continuity in Auden's Poetry, and other books. He is an important new voice in the study of the intersection of literature and Christian theology.

"The Ethics of Censorship: Religion and the Regulation of Language in Tudor-Stuart England"
Debora Shuger, Professor of English, UCLA
Monday, November 28, 2005, 4:30 P.M.
Connolly House, Boston College

Professor Shuger is the author of Political Theologies in Shakespeare's England, The Renaissance Bible, Habits of Thought in the English Renaissance: Religion, Politics, and the Dominant Culture, and other books. She is a major critic of Tudor-Stuart literature and culture, and has had an important influence on leading graduate students into the field of early modern literature and religion.


"Pilgrims in Spite of Ourselves: American Catholics in the New Century"
Paul Elie, The Candlemas Lecture
Wednesday, February 4, 2004, 7:30 P.M.
Gasson 100, Boston College
Co-sponsored by the Lowell Humanities Series
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Elie is author of The Life You Save May Be Your Own (2003), and is an editor at Farrar, Straus, Giroux

"Bodies, Voices, Religion, and Nation: Indonesian Women and the Performance of Islam"
Anne K. Rasmussem
Tuesday, February 17, 2004, 4:30-7:00 P.M.
Gasson 100, Boston College
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Rasmussen is Associate Professor of music and ethnomusicology at The College of William and Mary where she also directs a Middle Eastern Music Ensemble. Based on nearly two years of fieldwork, the presentation will be illustrated with ethnographic video and slides of religious performance in contemporary Indonesia. A reception and informal concert of Middle Eastern Music follow the lecture. Dr. Rasmussen, performing on the 'ud (traditional fretless lute) will be joined by musical colleagues, Anne Elise Thomas (playing the qanun, 75 string plucked zither) and master percussionist Karim Nagi Mohammed. Anne Elise Thomas is a graduate student in ethnomusicology at Brown. Karim Nagi Mohammad has been, perhaps, the most important force behind Middle Eastern music in the Boston area for the past several years. Karim performs constantly, and teaches at the New England Conservatory, the Arabic Music Retreat and in numerous other contexts.

"Chartres Cathedral: Stained Glass and Sculptures"
Malcolm Miller
Tuesday, March 16, 2004, 7:30 P.M.
Fulton 511, Boston College

Co-sponsored by the Presidential Scholars Program, the A&S Honors Program, the Fine Arts Department, the Medieval Studies Group, the Libraries, and the Germanic Studies Department

Miller is a foremost authority on Chartres Cathedral and is a renowned guide there. He has been named a Chevalier des Arts et Lettres by the French government for his work.

"The Politics of Reading Religion in Asian American Literature"
Jane Iwamura
Wednesday, March 24, 2004, 7:00-9:00 P.M.
McGuinn 5th Floor Lounge, Boston College
Co-sponsored by the Boston College English Department Ph.D. Program

Professor Iwamura is in the Religion and American Studies & Ethnicity department, University of Southern California. She is the author of Revealing the Sacred in Asian and Pacific America (2003).

"Occult Transmissions: Religion after Religion in Literary Modernism"
Gauri Viswanathan
Thursday, April 1, 2004, 4:30 P.M.
Devlin 101, Boston College

Viswanathan is professor of English at Columbia University and the author of the noted Outside the fold: Conversion, Modernity, and Belief (Princeton, 1998) and other books.


"Confessions of a Believing Critic"
Terry Teachout
Wednesday, January 22, 2003, 6:30-8:00 P.M.
Higgins 300
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"The Appetite for the Absolute: A Reading of Dostoevsky Post-9/11"
Mary Gordon
Wednesday, March 26, 2003
Co-sponsored by Humanities Series
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Religion and Literature at Boston College
English Department Faculty members at Boston College offered a series of lectures on the intersection of their literary fields with religious themes. The series was hosted by Religion and the Arts and was connected with the English graduate course, "Literature, Religion and Theory" (EN 835) taught by Professor Dennis Taylor.

"Tradition and Transformation: The Bible in Early Medieval England"
Robert Stanton
January 29, 2003

"Romanticism & the Religious Tradition"
J. Robert Barth, S. J.
February 12, 2003
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"Frankenstein: Protestant, Catholic, Atheist"
Judith Wilt
February 26, 2003
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"Losing My Religion: What Needs Revising in the Prevailing Theory about the Rise of English Studies"
Dayton Haskin
March 19, 2003

"Paul Ricoeur's Career As Paradigm For the Confrontation of Religious Faith and Postmodern Theory"
Andrew Von Hendy
April 2, 2003

"Gandhi, Literature & Religion" (This lecture has been cancelled, and will be rescheduled at another time.)
Kalpana Seshadri-Crooks
April 16, 2003


"Fifty Years of Shakespeare (and Religion)"
Peter Milward, S.J. 
March 5, 2002

"Theology and Literary Criticism"
Slavoj Zizek
September 19, 2002
Co-sponsored by Humanities Series

"Purgatory and Wittenberg (in the Court of Elsinore)"
John Murphy
October 23, 2002

"Romantic Medievalism: A Dim Religious Light?"
Michael Alexander
November 4, 2002

"Recovering Catholic Childhood: The History of Growing Up American Catholic in the 20th Century"
Robert Orsi
November 21, 2002
Co-sponsored by Humanities Series


"Being Catholic in a North Indian Village: What We Can Learn from a Different Catholicism"
Professor Matthew Schmalz, College of the Holy Cross
October 11, 2001
Co-sponsored by the Boston College Theology Department

"Praying with Icons"
Jim Forest
October 17, 2001

"Hotly in Pursuit of the Real: the Catholic Writer"
Ron Hansen
October 18, 2001
Co-sponsored by the Humanities Lecture Series

"Hamlet in Purgatory"
Stephen Greenblatt
October 30, 2001
Co-sponsored by the Heinz Bluhm Lecture Series

"Lost and Found: The Bible's Literary Afterlife"
Peter Hawkins
November 7, 2001