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Table of Contents for
Through a Glass Darkly: Suffering, the Sacred, and the Sublime in Literature and Theory, edited by Holly Faith Nelson, Lynn R. Szabo, and Jens Zimmermann


List of Illustrations

Trauma and Transcendence: An Introduction | Holly Faith Nelson

The Classical and Biblical Inheritance

Sacred Proposals and the Spiritual Sublime | David Lyle Jeffrey

Medieval Visions and Dreams

“Loke in: How weet a wounde is here!”: The Wounds of Christ as a Sacred Space in English Devotional Literature | Eleanor McCullough

Suffering in the Service of Venus: The Sacred, the Sublime, and Chaucerian Joy in the Middle Part of the Parliament of Fowls | Norm Klassen

Shakespearean Horror

Listening to Lavinia: Emmanuel Levinas’s Saying and Said in Titus Andronicus | Sean Lawrence

Precious Stories: The Discursive Economy in Shakespeare’s Rape of Lucrece | Heather G.S. Johnson

Metaphysical Afflictions

The Sacred Pain of Penitence: The Theology of John Donne’s Holy Sonnets | David Anonby

Bearing the Cross: The Christian’s Response to Suffering in Herbert’s The Temple | Daniel W. Doerksen

The Ethical Romantic Sublime

Horrific Suffering, Sacred Terror, and Sublime Freedom in Helen Maria Williams’s Peru | Natasha Duquette

Joanna Baillie and the Christian Gothic: Reforming Society through the Sublime | Christine A. Colón

Suffering and Sacrament in the Nineteenth Century

Sacramental Suffering and the Waters of Redemption and Transformation in George Eliot’s Fiction | Constance M. Fulmer

Christina Rossetti and the Poetics of Tractarian Suffering | Esther T. Hu

Suffering in Word and in Truth: Seventeenth and Nineteenth Century Quaker Women’s Autobiography | Robynne Rogers Healey

Sacred Modernism(s)

Sacramental Imagination: Eucharists of the Ordinary Universe in the Works of Joyce, Proust, and Woolf | Richard Kearney

The Via Negativa in E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India | George Piggford

The Fellowship of Suffering and Hope in Fantasy Literature

Consolation in Un/certainty: The Sacred Spaces of Suffering in the Children’s Fantasy Literature of George MacDonald, C.S. Lewis, and Madeleine L’Engle | Monika Hilder

The Messiah of History: The Search for Synchronicity in Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz | Deanna T. Smid

Violation and Redemption in Canadian Fiction

Suffering and the Sacred: Hugh Hood’s The New Age / Le nouveau siécle | Barbara Pell

Fictional Violations in Alice Munro’s Narratives | John C. Van Rys

The American Sublime

Thomas Merton and the Aesthetics of the Sublime: A Beautiful Terror | Lynn R. Szabo

Belated Beloved: Time, Trauma, and the Sublime in Toni Morrison’s Beloved | Steve Vine

Annie Dillard on Holy Ground: The Artist as Nun in the Postmodern Sublime | Deborah Bowen

Japanese (Re)Visioning of the Suffering Christ

Passion Plays by Proxy: The Paschal Face as Interculturality in Endô Shûsaku and Mishima Yukio | Sean Somers

Postmodern Aesthetics and Beyond

Testifying to the Infinity of the Other: The Sacred and Ethical Dimensions of Secondary Witnessing in Anne Karpf’s The War After | Bettina Stumm

Sacred Space and the Fellowship of Suffering in the Postmodern Sublime | Richard J. Lane

Suffering Divine Things: Cruciform Reasoning or Incarnational Hermeneutics | Jens Zimmermann


Notes on Contributors



David Anonby is a lecturer in English at Trinity Western University. His research areas are early modern devotional literature and religion and literature. He is currently working on the theology of John Donne, an interest that developed during graduate studies at the University of British Columbia under Paul Stanwood. Other areas of interest include the Bible as literature, Shakespeare, and the relationship between sexuality and spirituality.

Christine A. Colón is an associate professor of English at Wheaton College in Illinois, where she teaches courses in writing, English literature, global literature, modern drama, and Jane Austen. She has published articles on Jane Austen, Joanna Baillie, Anne Brontë, Adelaide Procter, Caryl Churchill, Wilkie Collins, and John Keats. She is the author of the introduction to the Valancourt edition of Joanna Baillie’s Gothic dramas, and she has recently published a monograph entitled Joanna Baillie and the Art of Moral Influence.

Daniel W. Doerksen is Honorary Research Professor, Department of English, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton. Originally from Winnipeg, he received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1973. He has published Conforming to the Word: Herbert, Donne, and the English Church before Laud (1997) and co-edited with Christopher Hodgkins Centered on the Word: Literature, Scripture, and the Tudor-Stuart Middle Way (2004). His book manuscript “Picturing Conflicts: Herbert, Calvin, and Scriptural Portrayals of Experience” is currently under review. He has authored articles on Spenser, Donne, Herbert, and Milton. Recent work includes “‘Generous Ambiguity’ Revisited: A Herbert for All Seasons” (George Herbert Journal 30.1–2 (2006–2007): 19–41) and “George Herbert, Calvinism, and Reading ‘Mattens,’” forthcoming in Christianity and Literature.

Natasha Duquette teaches eighteenth-century literature and critical theory at Biola University in Southern California. She has published articles in Mosaic, Notes and Queries, Christianity and Literature, and Persuasions-Online. She has also edited the essay collection Sublimer Aspects: Interfaces between Literature, Aesthetics, and Theology (2007) and recently contributed to Jane Austen Sings the Blues (2009). She is currently producing a new, annotated edition of Helen Maria William’s novel Julia for Pickering & Chatto’s Chawton House Library series.

Constance M. Fulmer holds the Blanche E. Seaver Chair in English Literature and is the associate dean of Seaver College at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. She is working on a biography of Edith J. Simcox and a book on George Eliot’s moral aesthetic. She has published an annotated bibliography of George Eliot criticism (1977) and with Margaret Barfield edited A Monument to the Memory of George Eliot: Edith J. Simcox’s Autobiography of a Shirtmaker (1998) as well as several articles on George Eliot and Edith Simcox. She is president of the Victorian Interdisciplinary Studies Association of the Western United States.

Robynne Rogers Healey is an associate professor of history at Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia. She is the author of From Quaker to Upper Canadian: Faith and Community among Yonge Street Friends, 1801–1850 (2006). Her articles have appeared in journals such as Quaker History, the Canadian Quaker History Journal, the York Pioneer, and Past Imperfect, and her essay on the diary of Sarah Welch Hill is included in The Small Details of Life: Twenty Diaries by Women in Canada, 1830–1996 (2002).

Monika B. Hilder is an associate professor of English at Trinity Western University. She specializes in children’s literature and fantasy literature, and her research interests include literature as moral education, imaginative education, gender criticism, and literature and spirituality, with a focus on George MacDonald, C.S. Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle, and L.M. Montgomery. Recent publications include journal articles and book chapters on C.S. Lewis, George MacDonald, L.M. Montgomery, and moral education.

Esther T. Hu, who received her Ph.D. from Cornell University, teaches literature and writing at Boston University. Her publications include “Christina Rossetti, John Keble, and the Divine Gaze” in Victorian Poetry (2008) and a translation, “Mother Goose Got Married,” in Taiwan Literature: English Translation Series (2007). She is writing a book on Christina Rossetti’s religious poetry and has completed the translation of Heaven and Earth: The Love Story of General Hu Tsung-Nan and Dr. Hsia-Ti Yeh into English.

David Lyle Jeffrey, Ph.D. (Princeton) and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, is Distinguished Professor of Literature and Humanities at Baylor University. He is also Professor Emeritus of English literature at the University of Ottawa, and has been Guest Professor at Peking University (Beijing) since 1996 and Honorary Professor at the University of International Business and Economics (Beijing) since 2005. His books include A Dictionary of Biblical Tradition in English Literature (1992); The Early English Lyric and Franciscan Spirituality (1975); Chaucer and Scriptural Tradition (1984); English Spirituality in the Age of Wesley (1987, 1994, 2000); The Law of Love: English Spirituality in the Age of Wyclif (1988, 2001); People of the Book: Christian Identity and Literary Culture (1996); and a co-authored book on The Bible and the University (2007). Currently he has forthcoming a book on Christianity and literature, co-authored by Greg Maillet (2010), and chapters for the Cambridge History of Literary Criticism and Cambridge Companion to the Hebrew Bible, and he is completing a commentary on Luke for the Brazos theological commentary series.

Heather G.S. Johnson received her Ph.D. in Renaissance English literature from Indiana University Bloomington and is currently teaching at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Her current research explores seventeenth-century attitudes toward texts and textuality.

Richard Kearney holds the Charles B. Seelig Chair of Philosophy at Boston College. His publications include Poétique du Possible (1984); Dialogues With Contemporary Continental Thinkers (1984); Modern Movements in European Philosophy (1987); Transitions: Narratives in Modern Irish Culture (1987); The Wake of the Imagination (1988); Poetics of Imagining: Modern and Post Modern (1991,1998); Angel of Patrick’s Hill (1991); Visions of Europe (1993); Poetics of Modernity (1995); States of Mind: Dialogues with Contemporary Thinkers (1995); Sam’s Fall (1995); Walking at Sea Level (1997); Desiderio et Dio (1996); The God Who May Be: A Hermeneutics of Religion (2001); On Stories: Thinking in Action (2001); Strangers, Gods, and Monsters: Interpreting Otherness (2002); Debates in Continental Philosophy: Richard Kearney in Conversation with Contemporary Thinkers (2004); The Owl of Minerva: Encountering Paul Ricoeur (2004); and Navigations: Collected Irish Essays, 1976–2006 (2006).

Norm Klassen is an associate professor and the current chair of English at St. Jerome’s University, federated with the University of Waterloo. He is the author of Chaucer on Love, Knowledge, and Sight (1995) and co-author of The Passionate Intellect: Incarnational Humanism and the Future of University Education (2006). Recent publications include notes and articles in Notes and Queries and Quaderni d’Italianistica as well as book chapters in A Concise Companion to Chaucer (2005), The Strategic Smorgasbord of Postmodernity: Literature and the Christian Critic (2007), and Tradition and Formation: Claiming an Inheritance (2009).

Richard J. Lane teaches in the English Department at Vancouver Island University, where he also directs the Literary Theory Research Group and the Seminar for Advanced Studies in the Humanities. He is the author or editor of nine academic books, including Image Technologies in Canadian Literature (2009), the single-authored Fifty Key Literary Theorists (2006), The Postcolonial Novel (2005), and Reading Walter Benjamin: Writing through the Catastrophe (2005). His Jean Baudrillard (2000, second expanded edition 2009) has been translated into Japanese and Korean. Lane writes the “Canada” section of The Year’s Work in English Studies for Oxford University Press and The English Association.

Sean Lawrence is an assistant professor in the Department of Critical Studies at the University of British Columbia (Okanagan). He has published on Elizabethan drama in journals such as the European Journal of English Studies, English Studies in Canada, and Renascence: Essays on Values in Literature. He is currently completing a book project entitled Forgiving the Gift: Exchange and Forgiveness in Marlowe and Shakespeare.

Eleanor McCullough, a graduate of the University of Oxford and Regent College, is a Ph.D. candidate at the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of York, England. Her current research involves investigating the ways in which late-medieval laypeople accessed the liturgy through vernacular lyrics and prayers in English and Anglo-Norman. She was recently granted a fellowship by the church of All Saints North Street to reconstruct a medieval mass for the Use of York, which was performed and published in 2009. McCullough lectures on medieval literature and theology in the Oxford Scholars and Christians in Residence summer program.

Holly Faith Nelson, an associate professor of English and co-director of the Gender Studies Institute at Trinity Western University, has co-edited The Broadview Anthology of Seventeenth-Century Verse and Prose (2000); Of Paradise and Light: Essays on Henry Vaughan and John Milton (2005); Eikon Basilike with Selections from Eikonoklastes (2006); and James Hogg and the Literary Marketplace: Scottish Romanticism and the Working-Class Author (2009). Her articles have appeared in journals such as Studies in English Literature, Studies in Philology, Eighteenth-Century Fiction, Scintilla, Studies in Hogg and his World, and The Year’s Work in English Studies.

Barbara Pell was a much loved and admired professor of English at Trinity Western University. She taught at Trinity for nearly twenty years before her death on March 9, 2009. Her publications include two monographs–Faith and Fiction: A Theological Critique of the Narrative Strategies of Hugh MacLennan and Morley Callaghan (1998) and A Portrait of the Artist: Ernest Buckler’s “The Mountain and the Valley” (1995)–as well as numerous articles and book chapters on Canadian literature. She was the recipient of the Davis Distinguished Teaching Award in 2006 and a Leading Women Award in 2008.

George Piggford is an associate professor of English and Martin Fellow in Catholic Studies at Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts. He compiled and edited Forster’s The Feminine Note in Literature (2000) and is co-editor of Queer Forster (1997). He has published on modernism and postmodernism in journals including English Studies in Canada, Modern Drama, and Mosaic, and in the collections American Gothic (1998), American Modernism across the Arts (1999), and The Strategic Smorgasbord of Postmodernity (2008). He is currently at work on a project on Flannery O’Connor and the languages of mysticism.

Deanna T. Smid is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario. Her dissertation, “‘The world in man’s heart’: The Faculty of Imagination in Early Modern English Literature“, supervised by Mary Silcox, explores early modern perceptions of imagination as a medical, philosophical, and psychological construct which is then used and stimulated in works of literature. Studying imagination is one of the consequences of her interest in science fiction and in proto-scientific literary works. Her research interests also include devotional poetry and English emblem books.

Sean Somers teaches in the English Department at the University of British Columbia. He has published several articles and book chapters on translation theory and the intercultural connections between Japan and Europe in the twentieth century. His monograph Ancestral Recall: The Celtic Revival and Japanese Modernism is currently under review.

Bettina Stumm is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of British Columbia, Canada. Her work examines the intersections between ethics and collaborative autobiography and develops an ethical framework for secondary witnessing in trauma communities. She recently assisted in writing the Holocaust memoir, A Long Labour, with survivor Rhodea Shandler and is currently the reviews editor for Life Writing.

Lynn R. Szabo is an associate professor of English at Trinity Western University where she teaches American literature and creative writing. She is a scholar of the poet and mystic Thomas Merton and is the editor of the first comprehensive edition of Merton’s poetry, In the Dark before Dawn: New Selected Poems of Thomas Merton (2005). She has written primarily on poetics and language, particularly on their relationship to silence and solitude in the American literary tradition.

John Van Rys, a graduate of Dalhousie, is a professor of English at Redeemer University College. He has written on a range of modern Canadian writers, including Al Purdy, Margaret Avison, Ernest Buckler, Robertson Davies, and Alice Munro, as well as on the theories of Mikhail Bakhtin. His current research focuses on cross-border writing, such as the fiction of Guy Vanderhaeghe and Annie Proulx; on the Canadian historical novel, particularly on suffering and trauma; and on the complexities of Munro’s short stories, including their historical dimensions, their moral complexity, and their formal openness. He has also co-authored The Research Writer: Curiosity, Discovery, Dialogue (forthcoming).

Steve Vine is a senior lecturer in English at Swansea University, Wales, where he specializes in teaching Romantic literature and literary theory. As well as articles and book chapters on Romanticism and theory, his publications include Blake’s Poetry: Spectral Visions (1993), the Penguin edition of D.H. Lawrence’s Aaron’s Rod (1995), Emily Brontë (1998), Literature in Psychoanalysis: A Reader (2005), and William Blake (2007). He is currently writing a book entitled Reinventing the Sublime: Post-Romantic Literature and Theory.

Jens Zimmermann is a professor of English and Canada Research Chair in Religion, Interpretation, and Culture at Trinity Western University. He is the author of Recovering Theological Hermeneutics: An Incarnational-Trinitarian Theory of Interpretation (2004) and Theologische Hermeneutik (2008); co-author of The Passionate Intellect: Incarnational Humanism and the Future of University Education (2006); and co-editor of Bonhoeffer and Continental Thought: Cruciform Philosophy (2009). His articles have appeared in journals such as Christianity and Literature, the Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology, the Journal of Beliefs and Values: Studies in Religion and Education, the Journal for Hermeneutics and Postmodern Thought, and Philosophy Today.