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Finding Refuge in Your Own Castle: Teresa de Ávila’s Las Moradas
18th January: 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm GMT
The Christian Literary Imagination Series
Continuing from the previous academic year, over the course of the 2021-22 academic year the Future of the Humanities Project is sponsoring a series of webinars on the Christian literary imagination in collaboration with Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford. The ‘Christian Literary Imagination Series’ will explore the role and function of the arts and humanities in the development of the individual and society.
Teresa de Jesús (also known as Teresa de Ávila) lived in a time of religious, social, and political upheaval. As an ecstatic, woman, reformer, and daughter and granddaughter of conversos (Jewish converts to Catholicism), Teresa was often the focus of criticism. However, she learned to find spiritual peace in her own soul. For Teresa, God was the ultimate refuge from the cares of the world, and prayer provided the entry into the depths of the soul, where God resided. Dr. Barbara Mujica’s presentation will examine Teresa’s ideas as expressed in Las moradas, which is structured around the metaphor of the soul as a castle. As the soul detaches from worldly concerns, one is lead to activism, creativity, and social engagement. Michael Scott, director of the Future of the Humanities Project, will provide opening and closing remarks, and Rev. Joseph Simmons, S.J., will moderate a Q&A session following the presentation.
Barbara Mujica is professor emerita of Spanish literature at Georgetown University, where she taught early modern Spanish literature with a specialization in the Spanish mystics, women’s writing, and Spanish theater. Her most recent scholarly book is Religious Women and Epistolary Culture in the Carmelite Reform: The Disciples of Teresa de Ávila (2020). Her other scholarly books include: Women Writers of Early Modern Spain: Sophia’s Daughters (2004), Teresa de Avila, Lettered Woman (2008), Shakespeare and the Spanish Comedia: Essays in Honor of Susan L. Fischer (2013), A New Anthology of Early Modern Spanish Theater: Play and Playtext (2014), and Collateral Damage: Women Write about War (2020). She is founding editor of Comedia Performance, a journal devoted to early modern Spanish theater. At Georgetown she was awarded a Presidential Medal, the School of Languages and Linguistics Service Medal, and the Dean’s Medal for Excellence in Teaching. Dr. Mujica is also a fiction writer and essayist. Her latest novel, Miss del Río, is scheduled for publication later in 2022 by HarperCollins.
Michael Scott (moderator) is senior dean, fellow of Blackfriars Hall, Oxford, college adviser for postgraduate students, and a member of the Las Casas Institute. He also serves as senior adviser to the president of Georgetown University. Scott previously was the pro-vice-chancellor at De Montfort University and founding vice-chancellor of Wrexham Glyndwr University.
Rev. Joseph Simmons, S.J., (moderator) is an American Catholic priest currently writing his doctoral thesis at Campion Hall, Oxford, under the supervision of Professor Graham Ward. He is exploring the Christian imagination and the fertile place where belief and unbelief touch in the fiction of Virginia Woolf and Marilynne Robinson. Simmons previously studied theology at Boston College and the Harvard Divinity School. His Licentiate in Sacred Theology thesis, “Via Literaria: Marilynne Robinson’s Theology Through a Literary Imagination,” explored the convergence of literary and Christian imaginations.
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