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News from the Hill February 18, 2010 | back to index

Andover Newton awarded Wabash Center grant for “The Borderlands of Imagination” project

Andover Newton has been awarded a grant from the Wabash Center of Crawfordsville, IN, to fund “The Borderlands of Imagination: Poetry as Catalyst for Theological Insight and Teaching.”

Organized by Prof. Mark Burrows and the Andover Newton Worship Theology and the Arts Program (WOTA), “The Borderlands of the Imagination” project will bring three leading American poets to the Andover Newton campus. Each will conduct a special faculty development workshop in the fall of 2010.

Faculty from member schools in the Boston Theological Institute (BTI) will join the poets to explore poetic imagination and its potential role in strengthening and deepening theological teaching.

Three major poets to participate

Invited poets include Robert Cording, author of six volumes of poetry and faculty member at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, Chris Wiman, editor of Poetry magazine, and Franz Wright, author of Walking to Martha’s Vineyard, winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

A project to “startle us into seeing an unfamiliar dimension”

“The rationale for this project explores a conviction voiced already in the later Middle Ages by Duns Scotus, who suggested that ‘theology is in a certain sense poetry…,’” says Professor Burrows.  “Poetry startles us into seeing an unfamiliar dimension in the ordinary; by its essential musicality, it functions as what Michel de Certeau calls ‘a labyrinth that branches out the more we circulate within it and the more we hear its voices.’

The opportunity for theological educators to work together with practicing poets promises to open new dimensions of religious experience and theological expression… Our dialogue with each other will engage poetry as a catalyst for the theological thinking and pastoral imagination that are foundational for our work as teachers.”

About the Wabash Center

Created and sustained by grants from Lilly Endowment, Inc., the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion seeks to strengthen and enhance education in North American theological schools, colleges, and universities.

The Center’s mission includes helping to build enabling environments for good teaching and learning by initiating studies, workshops and conferences on teaching and learning in theology and religion; supporting the initiatives of faculty members and institutions that enhance the teaching of theology and religion; and encouraging reflection by faculty members within various disciplines of theology and religion on the special contribution of each discipline to the study of theology and religion. The Center is based in Crawfordsville, IN.

The Wabash Center is located at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, IN, and is fully funded by the Lilly Endowment Inc.