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Title: "Laced with fire of stress" : the theological vision of Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.
Author: Abts, Devon Elizabeth
ISNI:       0000 0004 8500 6451
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis aims to make an original contribution to contemporary theological discourse through a protracted dialogue with the nineteenth-century priest and poet, Gerard M. Hopkins, about the intersections between language, ethics, and theology. While most critics today celebrate this Victorian Jesuit as one of the most innovative poets ever to have written in English, few have understood his equally original theological vision. Over the course of this thesis, I bring Hopkins into dialogue with several contemporary theological thinkers in order to contend that his lyrical genius nourishes, and is reciprocally nourished by, his theological ingenuity. Ultimately, I elucidate a fresh understanding of my Victorian interlocutor's theological vision by demonstrating how he cultivates a highly original theology of language which bids us to recognize that the verbal medium is not a tool to be manipulated, but a living power to be negotiated, without evasion, self-interest, or fear. My arguments are grounded upon two related foundational principles: first, that language is best understood as a dense and vital 'contexture'; and second, that the contextures of language are the contextures of life. I begin my study in Chapter One by examining how Hopkins's theology of language is grounded on a radical understanding of the reciprocities between language and "ordinary circumstance"-the variegated pressures and contingencies that shape our environment and give meaning to our lives. Chapters Two and Three develop this argument in a more explicit theological register as I draw upon my poetinterlocutor in order to contend that the verbal medium is concretely constituted by the interplay of sin and grace in ordinary circumstances. Building on these claims, I then proceed in the fourth and final chapter to consider how Hopkins's technical innovations- especially his use of "sprung rhythm"-may be understood as the poet's diligent efforts to incarnate a vitalizing theological ethic in the very density of his art.
Supervisor: Quash, Jonathan Ben ; Rosen, Aaron Matthew Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available