Department of Theology and Religious Studies

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Teaching Summary

Teaching Affiliate, University of Nottingham THEO1009 Building the Christian Church

College of Ministry and Department of English, Northwest University BIBL 1053 The Christian Scriptures BIBL1103 Old Testament History and Literature BIBL1203 New Testament History and Literature BIBL2213 Jesus and the Synoptic Gospels BIBL3253 Corinthian Correspondence ENGL 1013 Composition I: Expository Writing THEO1213 Christian Thought THEO 3213 Systematic Theology I

From 2015-17, I taught Bible and theology at Cascade Christian High School (Puyallup, Washington), teaching honours courses on Augustine's Confessions and the Gospel of Matthew for concurrent college credit through Northwest University, as well as more general courses on philosophy, theology and spiritual formation.

Research Summary

I am interested in the strange things that occur when theology and fiction interfere with each other, particularly when the lines between these two seemingly disparate discourses begin to blur, as in… read more

Recent Publications

  • ERIK EKLUND, 2023. The Mirror and the Icon: An Alternative Reading of Nabokov’s Pale Fire Partial Answers. (In Press.)
  • ERIK EKLUND, 2023. In the Mirror of an Esoteric Saint: Towards a Poetic Trinitarian Ontology of Non-Identical Repetition after Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire. In: JOHN MILBANK and RYAN HAECKER, eds., New Trinitarian Ontologies: Conference Proceedings of the New Trinitarian Ontologies Conference and Symposium Wipf & Stock. (In Press.)
  • ERIK EKLUND, 2022. Do Not Be Angry at the Moon: Pale Fire and The Old English Boethius The Nabokovian. 83, 1-13

Awards 2019 Dieter E. Zimmer Prize for Best Postgraduate Work on Nabokov. Value $1,500. Awarded 23 September 2019. Administered, selected and awarded by the International Vladimir Nabokov Society, and funded by the Vladimir Nabokov Literary Foundation. For the essay, '"A Green Lane in Paradise": Eschatology and Theurgy in Humbert Humbert's Lolita'.

Northwest University Online Instructor Certification. Awarded 5 September 2019. Awarded upon review of three online modules, measured against seven criterion indicating 'proven expertise as an outstanding online instructor'.

Invited Seminars, Presentations & Conference Activity (Upcoming) 'Nabokov's Religious Curiosity Shop.' Modern Language Association Annual Conference. San Francisco, 5-8 January 2023.

(Upcoming) 'Reader, Author, Angel: The Eschatological Turn in Vladimir Nabokov's "The Vane Sisters".' International Society for Religion, Literature and Culture Biennial Meeting. University of Chester, 15-18 September 2022.

'Ultralight Beam: Bend Sinister and the Cult of St Antony.' Hidden Nabokov. Wellesley College, 15-19 June 2022.

'"Look at this tangle of thorns": Lolita and the Reformed Criminal.' Catholicism and Monsters. Online, 8-9 April 2022. Invitation by Prof Anne M Carpenter.

'Redemption and Metafiction after Lolita.' Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts Research Seminar. University of St Andrews, 12 November 2021. Invitation by Dr George Corbett.

'"The Best and Most Successful Works of Literature": Nabokov and the New Testament.' The Bible in Art, Music and Literature Seminar. Centre for Reception History of the Bible, University of Oxford, 18 October 2021. Invitation by Dr Christine Joynes.

'Alexandria is on Fire: St Anthony the Great and the Gift of Hagiography to Modern Self-Conscious Fiction.' International Patristic, Medieval, and Renaissance Conference. Villanova University, 15-17 October 2021

'The Flowing Charshaf: Lolita's Theological Women.' Response by Dr Alison Jack. Logia Postgraduate Interdisciplinary Conference. University of St Andrews, 27 May 2021.

'Ever-Moving Repose: Temporality, Motion and the Infinite Gaze of Sudarg's Triptych.' Modern Language Association Annual Conference. Online, 7-10 January 2021.

'Meditations on the Coincidence of Metafiction and Metaphysics in Nabokov's Stories.' Response by Dr Giles Waller. Noesis Seminar. University of Cambridge, 26 November 2020. Invited by Prof Catherine Pickstock.

'A Triptych of Bottomless Light: Repetition, Originality, and the Divine in Nabokov's Pale Fire.' New Trinitarian Ontologies Symposium. University of Cambridge, 6 March 2020.

'Where the Tall White Fountain Plays: Mirrors and the Construction of Otherworldly Meaning in Vladimir Nabokov's Pale Fire.' Centre for Russian, Soviet, Central and Eastern European Studies Postgraduate Research Seminar. University of St Andrews, 17 October 2019. Invited by Dr. Margarita Vaysman.

'Transgressive Sacramentalism: Vladimir Nabokov and the Johannine Crucifixion.' Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology Postgraduate Study Day. Cambridge, 31 July 2019.

'Stallions of Lizard-like Lust: C. S. Lewis, Vladimir Nabokov, and Literature as Imaginative Praxis.' Society for the Study of Theology Graduate Conference. Birmingham, 13 July 2019.

Current Research

I am interested in the strange things that occur when theology and fiction interfere with each other, particularly when the lines between these two seemingly disparate discourses begin to blur, as in the Corpus Dionysiacum, where, when we listen to the competing voices of critical scholars like Hugo Koch and Josef Stiglmayr and theologians like Hans Urs von Balthasar, we find within the mystical significance of pseudonymous writing the enduring problem of Macbeth's witches who tell the truth by lying. In the Corpus Dionysiacum can be found much of what I find most fascinating in theology and literature-antimimesis, metafiction, deception, mystical reading and writing practices, apophasis and deification.

A comparativist by temperament, much of my research focuses upon authors and texts which occupy the liminal space in-between theology and fiction as well as modernism and postmodernism. I am fascinated by authors who write beyond the borderlands of theologically significant fiction. Much of my research focuses upon and is illuminated by insights gleaned from the likes of Vladimir Nabokov and Jorge Luis Borges, Mikhail Bulgakov, Salman Rushdie and Javier Marías, each of whom use various metaliterary techniques and devices to problematise or make strange notions of transcendence, the divine, the other and the self.

Researching under the supervision of Alison Milbank and Siggy Frank, my doctoral research examines the problems of repetition and identity and their relation to metafiction and metaphysics in Nabokov's 1962 novel, Pale Fire, with a view towards problematising Nabokov's professed indifference to the religious and the mystical. I argue that the novel's intimate preoccupation with (non-identical) doubling, which it effects in its myriad mirrors, translates the philosophical-theological discourse tacit to the Neoplatonic Christian image of a 'pale fire' into a metafictional meditation repetition, originality and transcendence, thereby mediating and negotiating between the literary critic's search for the author and the mystic's search for God.

With Yuri Leving, I am currently organising a round-table discussion on Nabokov and religion to be published in the forthcoming issue of Nabokov Online Journal. I am also serving on an International Vladimir Nabokov Society-sponsored working group for academic freedom and equity, diversity and inclusion. The goal of this working group is to devise a set of guidelines that will provide conference organizers with a set of tools for dealing with potential conflict arising during a conference. My peer-reviewed articles appear in Journal of Inklings Studies, Literature and Theology, Nabokov Online Journal, Nabokov Studies and Partial Answers (forthcoming).

Past Research

Before coming to Nottingham, I studied for the MLitt in Theology, Imagination and the Arts at the University of St Andrews. Under the supervision of Judith Wolfe, I wrote my dissertation on the various metaphors C.S. Lewis puts to use when thinking about eschatology and the doctrine of theosis especially. The initial question for this project originated in the scene of the painter in Lewis' 1945 novel, The Great Divorce, which suggests that the ghost's act of painting is in some sense necessary to the vision of God. Two critical aspects of this project were establishing the status and role of the imagination in Lewis' eschatological speculation and a critical evaluation of Lewis' concept of dance as a metaphor for theosis. Drawing comparative insights from Tolkien's 'Ainulindalë' and Robert Jenson's theological aesthetics, I argued that Ransom's vision of the Great Dance at the close of Perelandra is best imagined in musical rather than choreographic terms, as these better safeguard the primacy of the contributive participation and free play of the individual in Lewis' theological thought. To show how this coheres metaphysically, I examined the medieval origins of many of Lewis' favored tropes for thinking about theosis, concluding that Lewis' eschatological imagination (exemplified in Ransom's vision of the Great Dance) is deeply indebted to the literary and metaphysical imagination of the medieval system Lewis elucidates in The Discarded Image, with particular indebtedness to the final terrace of Dante's Purgatorio and to The Celestial Hierarchies of pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite. (A revised version of this project has been published as 'Confessing our Secrets: Liturgical Theōsis in the Thought of C. S. Lewis' in the Journal of Inklings Studies.)

Prior to undertaking coursework at St Andrews, I completed an MA in Biblical and Theological Studies from Western Seminary in 2012.

Department of Theology and Religious Studies

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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