Friday, April 12, 2013

John N Wall Awarded Fellowship for the National Humanities Center

John N Wall, the Principal Investigator for the Virtual Paul's Cross Project, has been awarded a Fellowship for a year of research and writing at the National Humanities Center, in Research Triangle Park, NC.

Wall's project at the Center will be to complete a book entitled Hearing Donne: The Experience of Preaching in Early Modern London, a project that is a direct outgrowth of his work with the Virtual Paul's Cross Project.

Wall will focus in this book on John Donne's engagement with time in his preaching. Wall will argue that Donne viewed preaching sacramentally, not simply as lectures that communicate ideas but as performances that enact their meaning. 

For Donne, Wall believes, time provides the context for structuring his interactions with his congregation as well as the content of his discourse.  Thus, Donne's sermons are about performing the meaning of time; they enact, as they unfold in time, Donne’s understanding of how God’s saving acts in human history connect humanity in its fallen temporal state to our future with God in eternity.  

In Wall's view, Donne's theology of preaching ties outcome to performance, makes meaning contingent on voice and on the timing and pacing of delivery, but also on Donne's choreographing of interactions with his audience, pacing his delivery and cueing their response within the one or two hours allotted him by the social conventions of congregational expectation.

This will be Wall's  second year as a Fellow of the National Humanities Center. 

During his first year as a Fellow, in 1980-1981, he wrote his first scholarly monograph, Transformations of the Word: Spenser, Herbert, Vaughan (1988), a work that traced the implications of worship as choreographed by the Book of Common Prayer for religious poetry in the early modern period.

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