“Unspoken Sermons” Online discussion

Paul Young, Baxter Kruger, and John MacMurray will engage in a 2 part interactive series online discussing the great George MacDonald’s Unspoken Sermons. They will also have guest panellists on an occasional basis. Part 1 will be every Wednesday beginning 5th May 2021 through 23rd June 2021. Session times are 7–8:30pm EST. All sessions will be recorded though to be viewed later (good news for those of us in Europe!). Registration is now open. You can sign up here

Part 2 will run from 8th September 2021 through 27th October 2021. 

God and Wonder: Theology, Imagination, and the Arts

Conference poster

Online 8–9th April 2021. What is the place of wonder in the Christian life? How can a theology of imagination contribute to our understanding of God and the world? What does wonder have to do with the life of the church in preaching, teaching, and worship? How might reflection on wonder enhance our understanding of place, vocation, and family? The 2021 Wheaton Theology Conference will ask renowned Christian scholars to consider how cultivating wonder and the gift of imagination can revitalize churches today.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/god-and-wonder-theology-imagination-and-the-arts-tickets-135567575267

Informing the Inklings

Informing the Inklings book cover

The 2020 Mythopoeic Society Awards finalists have been announced. Informing the Inklings: George MacDonald and the Victorian Roots of Modern Fantasy is one of the books chosen in the category of Inklings Scholarship. Congratulations to editors Kirstin Jeffrey Johnson and Mike Partridge and all the authors/scholars who contributed essays. This is also the first nomination for publisher Winged Lion Press. (www.wingedlionpress.comhttp://www.mythsoc.org/news/news-2020-12-08.htm

A tribute to Professor Stephen Prickett (1939-2020)

Stephen Prickett

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Professor Stephen Prickett, but also with great gratitude for the years of his scholarship, friendship, and collegiality. Longtime president of the George MacDonald Society, Stephen’s writings are a standard part of the reading and learning of scholars in the field of MacDonald studies, and more broadly Romantic and Victorian Literature. Some have been fortunate to also learn from his brilliant conversations and lectures. Stephen invested deeply in his students, and gave generously of his time to many academics across the globe who sought him out through email. He was a raconteur extraordinaire on almost every topic under the sun… if you shared a table with him you were guaranteed a lively and fascinating evening. As colleagues who sometimes enthusiastically concurred with Stephen, and sometimes vigorously disagreed with him, we valued both his input and his camaraderie.

Members of the George MacDonald Society may mostly know of his work with MacDonald, Inklings, and perhaps Fantasy Literature – and if you had the pleasure, through engaging with his contagious joie de vivre at conferences (assessing fine wines, discussing fine art, punting on the fine Cam). But Stephen’s academic and pedagogical gifting was wider and deeper than those spheres.

An honorary Professor of English at the University of Kent at Canterbury, and Regius Professor Emeritus of English Language and Literature at the University of Glasgow, his academic honours are too many to name. Stephen was born in Sierra Leone, educated in Canterbury, studied both at Oxford & Cambridge (with CS Lewis as one of his tutors), and taught in Nigeria before completing a Ph.D. in Cambridge in 1968. He continued to teach in universities quite literally around the world in such countries as the U.S., Australia, Singapore, Denmark, Italy, France, Romania, Denmark, and of course England and Scotland (and was a guest lecturer in many many more). He was Chair of English at the Australian National University and Director of the Armstrong Browning Library at Baylor (in addition to being a professor there). He was a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and the English Association, Chairman of the U.K. Higher Education Foundation, President of the European Society for the Study of Literature and Theology, and President of the George MacDonald Society. 

Stephen’s written output also gives testimony to both his energy and his acumen: two novels, multiple monographs and edited volumes (many award-winning), and well over a hundred articles on Romanticism, Victorian Studies, and related topics. Some of his work has been translated into multiple languages; his Romanticism and Religion: The Tradition of Coleridge and Wordsworth in the Victorian Church (1976) remains required reading for some university courses; his Words and the Word: Language, Poetics and Biblical Interpretation (1986) was described by the Inkling Owen Barfield as “a distinguished and original book.” Stephen was also editor and consultant for numerous series, most recently The Edinburgh Companion to the Bible and the Arts (2014). The fourteen-language, parallel text, Reader in European Romanticism of which he was general editor was awarded the Jean-Pierre Barricelli Prize for the year’s best book in Romanticism Studies. In 2015 Stephen was honoured with the prestigious Christianity & Literature Lifetime Achievement Award. 

The seventies and eighties was a period when mainstream English academic studies were heavily secularised and the religious and spiritual dimension in the work of authors in the literary cannon was ignored or explained away. Stephen’s magisterial ‘Romanticism and Religion‘ bucked that trend and was a vital book for any student that wanted to defend and explore the theological and spiritual implications of poetry, especially the works of Wordsworth and Coleridge. That book gave students of Malcolm’s generation something substantial with which to counter the pervasive hermeneutics of suspicion purveyed by their own professors and kept alive the flame of a torch which has now been passed to a whole new generation of scholars who are exploring the burgeoning field of theology and the arts. Kirstin’s discovery of the same text in Canada in the nineties similarly gave her permission to pursue studies of MacDonald in a manner many in the universities there were yet resisting. Thus we are both amongst the scholars who owe Stephen Pricket a great debt. Professor Stephen Prickett will be greatly missed, though his work will continue to inform and challenge us. Our deep sympathy and care goes out to Stephen’s wife Patsy (Patricia Erskine-Hill), a talented linguist and delightful lecturer in her own right, and to his other family and friends.

Malcolm Guite & Kirstin Jeffrey Johnson

October 2020