EL 235 Theology and the Creative Arts (2.5 ECTS)

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Module Level

8 (Undergraduate)

Time Allowance

Lectures: 12 hours total (six 2-hour sessions or equivalent) Private reading/listening/viewing: approx: 2 novels, selection of poetry, works of music, and one film


Continuous Assessment: 30% (Reflections & Participation) Final Essay: 70%

Module Aims

The aim of this module is to (1) explore theological – including more broadly religious and philosophical – themes as they are dramatized in literature and embodied in art (2) familiarize students with art as both a cultural expression of faith and a creative vehicle for communicating truth, beauty, and goodness.

Indicative Content (subject to change)

-Literature: Evelyn Waugh, Flannery O’Connor, Caryl Houselander, Gerald Manley Hopkins, et al.

-Art (e.g., iconography, painting)

-Music (e.g., Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius, hymnology, etc.)

-Film (e.g., Terrence Mallick's The Tree of Life)

Learning Outcomes

  • Explain the main accomplishments and key works of select literary writers and artists
  • Identify theological themes and allusions in select works of art, including fiction, poetry, visual art, and music.
  • Describe the advantages and disadvantages between engaging with these themes through an artistic (i.e., literary, musical, etc.) medium rather than a through a theological-textual medium.


  • Eliot, T.S. “Religion and Literature.” In Selected Prose, ed. Frank Kermode, 97–106. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1975.
  • Williams, Donald T. “A Larger World: C.S. Lewis on Christianity and Literature.” Mythlore 92 (2004): 43–55.
  • Middleton, Darren J. N. “Religion and Literature’s Unfinished Story.” Religion & Literature 41:2 (2009): 149–157.
  • Venard, Oliver-Thomas. “Theology and Literature”: What is it about?” Religion & Literature 41:2 (2009): 87–95.