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Alison Milbank

Associate Professor, Faculty of Arts

Contact

  • workRoom C39 Humanities Building Department of Theology and Religious Studies
    University Park
    Nottingham
    NG7 2RD
    UK
  • work+44 (0)115 846 7209
  • fax0115 951 5887

Biography

Alison joined the Department of Theology in September 2004. She studied Theology and English Literature at Cambridge, and then took her doctorate at Lancaster. She was John Rylands Research Institute Fellow at Manchester, working on its extensive Dante archives and after a temporary lectureship and extensive college teaching at Cambridge taught in the English Department at the University of Virginia for five years, making full use of the wonderful Sadleir-Black Gothic collection in the UVA library.

My approach to religion and culture attends particularly to stylistics, genres and poetics as embodying and performing theological meaning, as can be seen in my 'Chesterton and Tolkien as Theologians'. It is this approach that undergirds my current project, which attends to the double gesture of liberation and nostalgic return of the Gothic narrative in relation to the fraught history of the Church of England's emergence in the sixteenth century, and the development of the doppelganger in relation to Lutheran and Calvinist accounts of conversion. My interest in the grotesque in Chesterton, Dante, Ruskin and also the Reformation is in the way a mode of the monstrous and horrific can have a positive valence in aesthetics and theology.

Expertise Summary

Her research and teaching focuses on the relation of religion to culture in the post-Enlightenment period, with particular interest in non-realist literary and artistic expression, such as the Gothic, the fantastic, horror and fantasy. Her interest in medievalism led to a book on Dante and Victorian theology, history and art. Her study of G. K. Chesterton and Tolkien as theologian, with its emphasiss led to a co-written study of contemporary Anglican ecclesiology. She is currently working on an historical study of Gothic fiction from the Reformation to the end of the nineteenth century, aligning its rise and narrative tropes to Anglican theology and historiography.

Teaching Summary

I research and teach a range of areas in the field of religion and culture, specializing in non-realist literary production. 'Religion and Literature' takes stylistics and .genre as modes of… read more

Research Summary

I am completing a book-length study, 'God and the Gothic', which attempts a theological reading of Gothic fiction, rooting it in the trauma and nostalgia of the Reformation. It includes a revisionist… read more

Recent Publications

  • ALISON MILBANK (CO), PETER HAMPSON and ZOE LEHMANN IMFELD, eds., 2015. Theology and Literature after Postmodernity Bloomsbury, T & T Clark.
  • 2015. 'Literary Apologetics after Postmodernity: Death and Duality in Philip Pullman and J. K. Rowling' in. In: ZOE LEHMANN, PETER HAMPSON and ALISON MILBANK, eds., Literature and Theology after Postmodernity Bloomsbury, T & T Clark. 95-114
  • 2014. A Contemporary Perspective on Mission: The Blue Flower Theology in Scotland. 21(no. 1), 31-44
  • ALISON MILBANK, 2014. Ways of seeing in Ann Radcliffe's early fiction: The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne (1789) and A Sicilian Romance (1790). In: DALE TOWNSHEND AND ANGELA WRIGHT, ed., Ann Radcliffe: Romanticism and the Gothic Cambridge University Press. 85-99

I research and teach a range of areas in the field of religion and culture, specializing in non-realist literary production. 'Religion and Literature' takes stylistics and .genre as modes of theological work in a range of texts from Greek tragedy to the novel.'Religion and Fantasy' explores the relation of truth claims and imagination in German and British fantastic stories and theoretical writing. I teach the relation of narrative to theology and spiritual autobiography in 'Narrative and Theology'. Dante is a strong teaching interest at the MA level but also as part of my introductory undergraduate module. Virtue ethics and literature is a new addition in 2012 and begins by grounding students in Plato, Aristotle a bit of Aquinas and the modern recuperation of the tradition. We then use virtue ethics to read texts from Homer to Iris Murdoch. In the past I have taught nineteenth century literature and theology, God and the Gothic and modernism and philosophy and may develop these classes again in the future. In the MA 'Plato to Hegel' module, I teach Augustine and Dionysus the Areopagite.

Current Research

I am completing a book-length study, 'God and the Gothic', which attempts a theological reading of Gothic fiction, rooting it in the trauma and nostalgia of the Reformation. It includes a revisionist reading of the Gothic Double as potentially positive. My interests in imaginative forms of Christian apologetics has led to a book chapter on enchantment, death and the children's fiction for a volume on Religion and Literature in the Postmodern University, which I am co-editing with Zoe Lehmann and Peter Hampson

I am researching on Tolkien's debt to Dante for a conference lecture at Dublin - also with a bit of James Joyce and Finnegans Wake! I Also working on the two natures of Christ as expressed in medieval representations of the crucifixion and Scottish Gothic and Calvinism.

Past Research

I began my research career with an article on the 19C feminist and lay theologian, Josephine Butler and later edited a volume of essays about her work with prostitutes. My doctorate on 19C Gothic, feminism and religion was published as Daughters of the House: Modes of the Gothic in Victorian Fiction. This led me into the earlier Gothic and I have edited Radcliffe novels, written a number of articles on horror fiction from Dracula to Oscar Wilde.The Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu is a particular favourite as being strongly theological. My second book, Dante and the Victorians, was an attempt to understand why and how a Catholic Italian poet became so important for Protestants and an honorary Englishman. I still keep up Dante interests and those in Ruskin, a great lover of Dante, about whom I have also written several articles. A series of public lectures in Virginia led me to Tolkien studies, and it was another question about giving him an intellectual context that led me to write about him in relation to G.K. Chesterton, and to use that book to put into practice my genre and stylistics approach to theological meaning through literary texts.

Future Research

Research commitments include a chapter on Ann Radcliffe's early fiction for a book devoted to that Gothic novelist for CUP, and a chapter on Margaret Oliphant for a book on Anglican women novelists. I am also exploring the relation of secular university teaching and priestly vocation for yet another book. The theology of representation of Christ in medieval art is another project, in which my ideas on the grotesque will be developed further.

Once 'God and the Gothic' is submitted I do not at the moment have a major project ready. Possible ideas are: first, religious drama, especially the relation between visual representation, liturgy and theology (Calderon, Claudel and Shakespeare, Joanna de la Cruz); secondly, fairies, monsters, green men and intermediate religious figures; thirdly, 17C religious poetry of Crashaw and Vaughan. Another probable area will be some kind of follow-up to Andrew Davison's and my co-written For the Parish, probably developing a theology of culture.

  • ALISON MILBANK (CO), PETER HAMPSON and ZOE LEHMANN IMFELD, eds., 2015. Theology and Literature after Postmodernity Bloomsbury, T & T Clark.
  • 2015. 'Literary Apologetics after Postmodernity: Death and Duality in Philip Pullman and J. K. Rowling' in. In: ZOE LEHMANN, PETER HAMPSON and ALISON MILBANK, eds., Literature and Theology after Postmodernity Bloomsbury, T & T Clark. 95-114
  • 2014. A Contemporary Perspective on Mission: The Blue Flower Theology in Scotland. 21(no. 1), 31-44
  • ALISON MILBANK, 2014. Ways of seeing in Ann Radcliffe's early fiction: The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne (1789) and A Sicilian Romance (1790). In: DALE TOWNSHEND AND ANGELA WRIGHT, ed., Ann Radcliffe: Romanticism and the Gothic Cambridge University Press. 85-99
  • MILBANK, A., 2012. The Bible and the novel: apocalyptic reading Modern Believing. 53(1), 22-36
  • ALISON MILBANK, 2012. Returning to the Parish. In: ANDREW DAVISON, ed., Returning to the Church SCM. (In Press.)
  • ALISON MILBANK, 2012. Byron and the Explained Supernatural. In: GAVIN HOPPS, ed., Byron and the Supernatural LIverpool University Press. (In Press.)
  • ALISON MILBANK, 2011. Dante, Ruskin and Rossetti: Grotesque Realism. In: NICK HAVELY, ed., Dante in the Nineteenth Century: Reception, Canonicity, Popularization Peter Lang. 139-58
  • 2011. 'A Diminished Church: Revisiting Dogma or Disaster' Theology in Action: Dorothy Sayers Society Study day. 23-32
  • MILBANK, A., 2011. Apologetics and the imagination: making strange. In: DAVISON, A., ed., Imaginative apologetics: theology, philosophy and the Catholic tradition SCM Press. 31-45
  • ALISON MILBANK, 2010. Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu: Gothic Grotesque and the Huguenot Inheritance. In: JULIA M WRIGHT, ed., A Companion to Irish Literature 1. Wiley-Blackwell. 362-76
  • ALISON MILBANK, 2010. 'The Sleep of Reason': reason, Gothic and the Grotesque. In: CONOR CUNNINGHAM AND PETER M CANDLER JNR, ed., The Grandeur of Reason:: Religion, Tradition and Universalism SCM. 432-43
  • DAVISON, A. and MILBANK, A., 2010. For the parish: a critique of fresh expressions SCM Press.
  • MILBANK, A., 2009. Divine beauty and the grotesque in Dante's Paradiso The Yearbook of English Studies: Literature and Religion. 39(1/2), 155-168
  • ALISON MILBANK, 2009. Bleeding Nuns: A Genealogy of the Female Gothic Grotesque. In: DIANA WALLACE AND ANDREW SMITH, ed., The New Female Gothic:: New Directions Palgrave Macmillan. 76-97
  • MILBANK, A., 2008. Grotesque Realism in Ruskin's 'Praeterita': Autobiography and the World Beyond the Self Nineteenth Century Prose. (In Press.)
  • MILBANK, ALISON, 2008. Huysmans, Machen and the Gothic Grotesque, Or: The Way Up is the Way Down. In: HORNER, AVRIL and ZLOSNIK, SUE, eds., Le Gothic:: Influences and Appropriations in Europe and America 1st edition. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 83-99
  • ALISON MILBANK, 2008. Sacrificial Exchange and the Gothic Double in 'Melmoth the Wanderer' and 'The Picture of Dorian Gray'. In: VICTORIA MORGAN AND CLARE WILLIAMS, ed., Shaping Belief: Culture, Politics and Religion in Nineteenth-century Writing 52. LIverpool University Press. 113-28
  • ALISON MILBANK, 2008. Tolkien, Chesterton and Thomism. In: STRATFORD CALDECOTT, THOMAS HENEGGER, FRANCES CAIRNCROSS, ed., Tolkien's 'The Lord of the Rings':: Sources of Inspiration Walking Tree. 187-98
  • MILBANK, A., 2007. Chesterton and Tolkien as theologians: the fantasy of the real London: T&T Clark.
  • MILBANK, A., 2007. Josephine Butler's Apocalyptic vision of the prostitute and modern debates on prostitution. In: MILBANK, A., ed., Beating the traffic: Josephine Butler and Anglican social action on prostitution today Winchester: George Mann Publications. 89-104
  • MILBANK, A. G., 2007. Gothic Femininities. In: SPOONER, C. and MCEVOY, E., eds., The Routledge Companion to the Gothic London: Routledge. 155-63
  • ALISON MILBANK, ed., 2007. Beating the Traffic: Josephine Butler and Anglican Social Action Today Winchester, George Mann Publications.
  • MILBANK, A., 2006. A Fine Grotesque or a Pathetic Fallacy? The Role of objects in the autobiographical writing of Ruskin and Proust. In: DICKINSON, R. and HANLEY, K., eds., Ruskin's struggle for coherence: Self-representation through art, place and society Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Press. 90-105
  • MILBANK, A., 2005. Tolkien and Gift Theory. In: Tolkien Seminar Papers
  • MILBANK, A., OTTO, P. and MULVEY-ROBERTS, M., eds., 2004. Gothic Fiction: Rare Printed Works from the Sadleir-Black Collection of Gothic Fiction at the Alderman Library, University of Virginia: a listing and guide to the microfilm collection Marlborough: Adam Matthew.
  • MILBANK, A., 2003. "My precious" : Tolkien's fetishized ring. In: BASSHAM, G. and BRONSON, E., eds., The Lord of the rings and philosophy: one book to rule them all Chicago: Open Court.
  • MILBANK, A., 2002. The Victorian Gothic in English Novels and Stories, 1830-1880. In: HOGLE, J.E., ed., The Cambridge Companion to Gothic Fiction Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 145-165
  • MILBANK, A., 1998. Dante and the Victorians Manchester: Manchester University Press.
  • MILBANK, A., 1992. Daughters of the house: modes of the Gothic in Victorian fiction London: Macmillan.

Department of Theology and Religious Studies

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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