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Ben Saunders, 'Wonder Woman in Bondage'

February 9, 3-4pm H0.58 (followed by a seminar 4-5pm in the staff common room)

Ben Saunders is an Associate Professor in English at the University of Oregon, specializing in English Renaissance poetry and drama, popular music and comic books. His most recent monograph is Do the Gods Wear Capes: Spirituality, Fantasy and Superheroes (2011) for Continuum's New Directions in Religion and Literature series.

Seminar discussion will be partly based on the introduction to Ben's book, which can be downloaded here.(Word Document)

Ginsberg's Howl: A Cry of Protest against Religious Orthodoxy in 50s America?

November 30, 5-7pm, room H507

The beat poet Allen Ginsberg describes his seminal poem 'Howl' as a spiritual work. Indeed, Howl's multiple allusions to religious images could very well support this view. Yet Howl has also been described as an anti-establishment work that goes against the grains of 50s America's social mores. That is, an America whose religious landscape is dominated by Judeo-Christian world views. If Howl is anti-establishment, how does it constitute as an attack on religion? Does this render obsolete Ginsberg's claim that the poem is a spiritual work?

The discussion will be preceded with a short presentation on Howl and religious orthodoxy. Download the reading material on Kit Smart here (PDF Document) and the Beat Movement here. (Word Document)

Bible and Translation

March 9, 2010, 6.15-8.15pm, H545

When towards the beginning of Goethe’s play, Faust is discovered in his studies, he is translating John 1:1 “In principio erat Verbum”. In a mere 14 lines, he arrives from “In the beginning was the Word!” via “Sense!” and “Power!” to “In the beginning was the Deed!” At this point, Mephistopheles is already there in the room, and the contract with the devil is not far… Faust’s fate makes the reader of Luther’s Open Letter on his own translation of the Bible wonder (at the least) if it is as simple as he suggests: “I wanted to speak German, not Latin or Greek, since it was German I had undertaken to speak in the translation.” All the more so, since Luther drops that deceivingly innocent-looking sentence in the middle of his justification for inserting a tiny word, “alone” into the text of Romans 3:28, thus changing the well-known text to “Faith alone [sola fide] saves, without works.” Is that really just a matter of the difference of the two languages? And would his other suggestion, to translate “Ave gratia plena, Maria” as “Hello there, Mary”, be simply improper, or rather blasphemous?


February 9, 2010, 6.15-8.16pm, room H542

  1. Are green values contradictory to religious tenets? (Defining Environmentalism)
  2. What is anthropocentrism’s place in constructing an environmental-friendly religiosity? (Religion and Nature)
  3. Is process theology the way to go for ecotheology? (Ecotheology and World Religions)