Faith, Hope and Poetry: Theology and the Poetic Imagination

Speaker(s): Malcolm Guite
Date: July 1-12, 2013
Length: 19h32min
Product ID: RGDL4313S

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This course explores the poetic imagination as a way of knowing; a way of seeing reality more clearly. It makes the case for imagination as a truth-bearing faculty, distinct from but complementary to reason. In a series of critical appreciations of English poetry from Anglo-Saxon times to the present day, we see how the insights of poetry can deepen our understanding of the way we live now and also enhance the way we approach spiritual life and "do theology". Because the poetry is explored in chronological order, with some history and context to help us at each new stage, this course also forms a good introduction to the history of English poetry and gives a guide and a good series of starting places for further exploration.

A specialist knowledge of English literature is NOT required for this course; just a willingness to engage with the text and an open heart and mind both to what the poetry is saying and the way it says it. If participants would like to read or re-read Shakespeare's Tempest, and read more widely in the poetry of Donne, Herbert, Milton, and Coleridge, that would make the course an even richer experience for them. The contemporary poet on whom we will focus most closely will be Seamus Heaney so any reading in his work would be helpful.

The course as a whole is a development of lines of thinking in Malcolm Guite's book Faith, Hope and Poetry (Ashgate 2010 and 2012), in which the reading material for this course can be found. Lectures include:

  • Poetry and Transfiguration: Reading for a New Vision
  • Early Visions: An Anglo-Saxon Dream Poem
  • Truth and Feigning: Story and Play in Shakespeare
  • Understanding Light: A meeting of Poetry, Faith and Science
  • A Second Glance: The Poetry of John Donne
  • Many-storied Windows: Double Vision in Herbert
  • Holy Light and Human Blindness: Seeing the Invisible with Milton
  • The Secret Ministry: Coleridge and Imagination
  • Doubting Faith; Reticent Hope: Transfigured Vision in Sceptical Poets
  • Replenishing Fountain: Hope and Renewal in the Poetry of Seamus Heaney

See All Audio by Malcolm Guite

Malcolm Guite is a poet and singer-songwriter living in Cambridge, England where he also works as a priest and academic. Dr. Guite lectures widely in both the UK and North America and is the author of several books on literature and theology. Sounding the Seasons, his volume of sonnets for the church year, was published by Canterbury Press in 2013.

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