DITA Launches Major Research Project

Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts (DITA) has announced the launch of a new research project, “Theology, Modernity, and the Arts.” The initiative is aimed at exploring the role of the arts in the theological dynamics of the modern age.

“The story of our culture’s wrestling with God—and wrestling against God—has been told in so many ways, but the arts are often left to one side,” said DITA Director Jeremy Begbie. “This project seeks to show the role the arts have played in this story, and how they might help us in the future to tackle some of the dilemnas and dead-ends which modernity has left us.”

The project will also serve as the next phase of the Duke-Cambridge collaboration. The first phase culminated in the April 2014 performance of James MacMillan’s St Luke Passion, a piece jointly commissioned by Duke Divinity School. This new phase, which will center on the biblical theme of “New Creation,” will begin during Holy Week 2015 with a week of meetings and public events at King’s College in Cambridge, England. The events will include an exhibition of paintings by Mako Fujimura and Bruce Herman (shown at Duke in 2013), two lectures by former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams on the arts and modernity, a performance by Begbie and pianist Cordelia Williams of Messiaen’s Visions de l’Amen, a reading of new work by poet Micheal O’Siadhail, and a performance of the Duke-commissioned St Luke Passion, conducted by the composer James MacMillan, with King’s College Choir.

“Theology, Modernity, and the Arts” will undertake its main work through a series of multi-disciplinary colloquia, and will culminate in a series of publications, a major conference, and at least one major artistic commission.