‘Love Abyss’ subject of 2012 Antoinette Brown lecture

Amy Hollywood (image courtesy of Harvard Divinity School)

A Harvard Divinity School professor who has a strong interest in the role that religion plays in human life will deliver the 2012 Antoinette Brown Lecture March 22 at Vanderbilt University Divinity School.

Amy Hollywood’s talk, which will be at 7 p.m. in Benton Chapel, is titled “Love Abyss: Preaching Desire in the 13th and 21st Centuries.”

Hollywood, who is the Elizabeth H. Monrad Professor of Christian Studies at Harvard, specializes in mysticism, with strong interests in feminist theory, psychoanalysis and continental philosophy.

As the 38th Antoinette Brown lecturer, she will examine how the practice of reading can take one ecstatically outside oneself even in the depths of intense grief. Models of this ecstatic practice include Hadewijch, a 13th-century poet who was known for the implacability of her love. Hollywood will trace parallels and contrasts of Hadewijch with contemporary women’s writing on death and desire.

Hollywood is the author of The Soul as Virgin Wife: Mechthild of Magdeburg, Marguerite Porete, and Meister Eckhart, which received the Otto Grundler Prize for the best book in medieval studies from the International Congress of Medieval Studies; Sensible Ecstasy: Mysticism, Sexual Difference and the Demands of History, and the forthcoming Acute Melancholia and Other Essays.

Prior to her appointment at Harvard in 2005, she was a professor of theology and the history of Christianity at the University of Chicago Divinity School.  She has also taught at Dartmouth and Rhodes colleges.

Hollywood is currently exploring the two-fold conception of enthusiasm in Immanuel Kant as a lens through which Martin Heidegger’s and Jacques Derrida’s understanding of Christian mysticism might be productively re-imagined. This is part of a larger project on enthusiasm in modern philosophy, theology and poetry.

The Antoinette Brown Lecture, made possible by a gift from Sylvia Sanders Kelley of Atlanta, Ga., is named in memory of the first woman ordained to the Christian ministry in the United States. The lectures, which began in 1974, are intended to “bring to the school distinguished women theologians to speak on concerns for women in ministry.”

Hollywood’s talk is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Sha’Tika Brown at shatika.brown@vanderbilt.edu.