2001 IG Recipients

Gender, Genre, and Faith: Religion and the Nineteenth-Century Woman Writer
 
Pamela Corpron Parker
Project Director
Assistant Professor of English
Whitworth College
 
Alexis Easley
Assistant Professor of English
University of Alaska Southeast
 
Maria LaMonaca
Lilly Fellow & Lecturer in English
Valparaiso University
 
Julie Straight
Graduate Student and Instructor
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
 
Kathleen Vejvoda
Assistant Professor of English
Metropolitan State University (St. Paul, MN)
 
Project Abstract:
Victorian preoccupations with gender, religion, and national identity permeate the works of a variety of familiar and unfamiliar authors. Gender, Genre, and Faith focuses on Christian women writers of nineteenth-century Britain. Religious beliefs not only shaped the lives and identities of thousands of English women from every economic class, but also were foundational to the ongoing projects of nineteenth-century imperialism and feminism. All too often, existing studies ignore, oversimplify, or distort women's religious experiences and expressions, representing them as psychological aberrations or mere rhetorical tools. This project seeks to provide a more accurate, amplified account of the literary history of the nineteenth-century by illuminating the broader cultural and religious contexts in which individual women writers worked. Using the theoretical lenses of feminism and cultural criticism, the project will document women authors' innovations in a variety of literary genres. It will trace their explorations of gender identities and clarify their contributions to the debates over religious dissent, the establishment of the English Empire, and the role of the woman writer. Participants will read recognizable literary works, such as the novels of Charlotte Bronte and poems of Christina Rossetti, alongside non-literary and less canonical texts, such as Harriet Martineau's political journalism and Hannah More's biblical treatises. Collaboration is not only desirable, but essential to the success of the project. Questions regarding the intersections of gender, genre, and faith are complex, and they require the ecumenical breadth and combined expertise provided by a group of scholars with varied religious and theoretical training. Initial collaborations promise both a specialized scholarly context as well as a rich spiritual community. With support for extended summer research and collaboration on annual conference panel presentations, such as the British Women Writers Conference, the research should produce significant contributions to the fields of nineteenth-century British literature, religious history, and women's studies. As the projects get underway, participants will incorporate other interested scholars into the project, invited promising undergraduate and graduate students to assist in research. At the conclusion of the grant, we hope to plan an additional conference entitled, "Gender and Faith in the Christian Liberal Arts College."
 
Modes of Design Reasoning
 
Stephen Meyer
Project Director
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Whitworth College
 
Robin Collins
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Messiah College
 
William Dembski
Associate Professor in the Conceptual Foundations of Science
Baylor University
 
Robert Koons
Professor of Philosophy
University of Texas
 
Timothy McGrew
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Western Michigan University
 
Lydia McGrew
Independent Scholar
Kalamazoo, Michigan
 
Paul Nelson
Senior Fellow
Discovery Institute
 
Del Ratzsch
Professor of Philosophy
Calvin College
 
Project Abstract:
Arguments for design in nature were revered for millennia in the West, and were a long staple of Christian theology and philosophy. With the criticisms of David Hume, however, and especially with the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species, these arguments became less and less common, not only in biology, but in philosophy and theology as well. In the last few years, however, design arguments have begun to reemerge in physics, cosmology, and even biology. At the same time, the philosophers have begun attempts to formalize design inferences. These developments are important, since a rigorous and empirically sensitive design argument would create new opportunities for the Christian and theistic view of the world in fields as diverse as philosophy, theology, biology, physics, and psychology. An important recent attempt as such formalization is The Design Inference (Cambridge University Press, 1998) by mathematician and philosopher, William Dembski. His proposal, which depends on a non-Bayesian statistical analysis, has met with both approval and criticism among scientists and philosophers, both within and outside of the academic world. A number of Christian scholars have already begun applying his method in their disciplines. Others share Dembski's motivation, but profoundly disagree with his proposal. (See, for example, the forthcoming interchange between Dembski and Christian philosopher Robin Collins in Christian Scholars' Review.) Still, others argue for a different but complementary method to Dembski's, appealing to such notions as "inference to the best explanation".
 
Regrettably, despite the public debate on "intelligent design', there has not yet been an opportunity for certain Christian scholars to consider and collaborate on different models for inferring design. This project would do just that. First, it will convene a small symposium to interact, and where possible, resolve some of these technical disputes. After a preliminary exchange of papers concerned with the topic: Models of Design Reasoning: How do we infer in the real world?, the group will meet at Calvin College (Grand Rapids, Michigan), on May 22-24, 2001, to interact and respond to each other's proposals. A number of lines of inquiry are likely to emerge from this meeting. Timothy McGrew will edit and publish the papers and official responses as a single volume entitled Models of Design Reasoning. Before the volume is published, panel presentations on the same topic will be proposed for the annual meetings of the American Philosophical Association, the Society of Christian Philosophers, and the Evangelical Philosophical Society.
 
Surprising Beauty: The Body Broken/The Body Whole
Bruce Herman
Project Director
Professor of Art
Gordon College
 
David Goa
Curator Provincial
Museum of Alberta (Edmonton, AB, Canada)
Eric Grimm-Vance
Assistant Professor of Art
Trinity Western University (Vancouver, BC, Canada)

Edward Khippers
Artist
Arlington, Virginia
Patricia Jones
Art Patron Director
Ogilvy Public Relations (Cambridge, MA)
 
Project Abstract:
We propose an exhibition by Christian artists of national standing to be displayed alongside the works of secular counterparts, and centered upon the human form and its expressive possibilities in the post-culture. The exhibit will bring to the public square powerful examples of art addressing beauty revealed in the human body in diverse circumstances: bodies broken by disease, age, accidents of birth, or martyrdom; bodies presented in the classical mode of wholeness and health; bodies presented as political territory, exploited, sub-divided, humiliated, or exalted. The exhibition will unapologetically address a living religious-art tradition, which directly or indirectly references Christ's incarnation, passion, and resurrection as a radical critique of human categories of beauty and meaning-especially in its understanding of the physical body. The western tradition of body representation has been thoroughly revisited and critiqued in recent years.
 
Contemporary artists, particularly feminists, have been referencing the body for more than twenty years now as a battlefield of political and social consciousness. Artists such as Francis Bacon, Alice Kneel, Lucian Freud, and others have given us raw images of the body that would seem to lay the axe to received traditions of the body beautiful. What has been lacking in contemporary body-art (and the critical analysis attending to it) is a careful examination of a crucial subtext to nearly all figurative representation: an underlying shared vision of human beauty and significance. To many this undoubtedly seems too loaded a concept; too fraught with the danger of sentimentality on the one hand, or elitist pretense on the other. To others it might seem hopelessly naïve. We do not think so. Th Christian sacred art tradition may offer an alternative to the polarities of saccharine prettiness (19th Century European realism) or the deadpan, raw representations of the human visage often seen in modernist body-art. This alternative centers upon the passion of Christ and the implicit critique it sets in motion over against typical human understandings of power, success, and beauty. Whereas the Greco-Roman vision postulates an ideal form, exalting youth, strength, and social superiority-the Christian art tradition reveals meaning and beauty in the apparent failure, weakness, and pathos of the Cross. Broken human beings for twenty centuries have discovered an unsentimental hope in this image of a body broken on the wheel of human power. The passion of Christ has always been seen as a point of transcendence in its poignancy; a powerless, innocent man lays down his life in the face of political power and religious bigotry, and ends by becoming the undisputed fulcrum of western history. It goes without saying that Christian theology and church traditions have not always fully understood or honored the implications of this alternative vision-and, in fact, often have been chief antagonists to it. However, it is our contention that the Christian sacred art tradition provides a possible third way: a genuine alternative to the cloying nostalgia of traditionalist concepts of beauty on the one hand, and the endgame despair of the modernist attack on bourgeois sensibility on the other. This tradition of religious art is alive and well though largely ignored by contemporary art culture (and by its own Christian community as well).
 
Religious art continues to be a vital arena of investigation and expression and our exhibition attempts to prove this to be true. Moreover, it is hoped that fruitful dialogue for the common good can be stimulated by placing contemporary religious art (which utilizes the human form as central) alongside secular and feminist body art, both of which may hold more common ground than is currently imagined. At the very least it is hoped that, by presenting differing visions of the body and its meaning in culture, we can enliven the public square with fruitful discussion, stimulating scholarly attention and leavening public discourse around the issue of human beauty in its full and surprising range of expression.