Faith & Reason Lecture: Contemplation In Community As Reason For Hope
Writers from St. Augustine of Hippo to Jane Austen have represented men and women together observing the natural world and thus being lifted into edifying conversation. In his Confessions St. Augustine recalls standing at a window overlooking a garden in Rome and speaking with his mother St. Monica until they are drawn from God’s “works” to contemplating eternal “Wisdom”. In Austen’s novel Mansfield Park, the Oxford theology student Edmund Bertram stands gazing out a window with his cousin Fanny Price, until she declares there would be less “wickedness and sorrow” in the world if more people attended to “the sublimity of nature”. These two scenes, one historical and one imagined, suggest men and women may be lifted together into theological and ethical forms of discourse by looking beyond themselves, out of windows, onto the beauty of Creation. Situated as we are, in the twenty-first century, how could we emulate the humble, receptive, and dialogic posture of St. Monica, as remembered by her son, or of Fanny Price, as imagined by Austen? I initially learnt the practice of collaborative speaking, writing, and editing in a graduate seminar on Virginia Woolf at the University of Toronto. The experience yielded my first academic publication: a book chapter co-authored with five other people. In my own journey as an academic, which ultimately led me into the Catholic Church, I have continued to engage in very collaborative forms of scholarship. My lecture will share some of these concrete experiences of contemplation in community as reason for hope.
About Professor Duquette
Dr. Natasha Duquette is author of 30-Day Journey with Jane Austen (Fortress Press, 2020) and is currently serving as editor-in-chief for The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Romantic-Era Women’s Writing (Palgrave MacMillan), which is a collaborative project involving writers based in universities around the globe. She is also author of Veiled Intent (Pickwick, 2016), co-editor of Jane Austen and the Arts: Elegance, Propriety, and Harmony (Lehigh University Press, 2013), and editor of Sublimer Aspects: Interfaces between Literature, Aesthetics, and Theology (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007). For the Chawton House Library series, she produced the first annotated, scholarly edition of Helen Maria Williams’s Julia, a novel interspersed with poetical pieces (Routledge, 2009). Her articles have appeared in the journals Persuasions, English Studies in Canada, Christianity and Literature, Notes and Queries, Mosaic, and Women’s Writing. She has contributed essays to multiple collections, including Through a Glass Darkly: Suffering, the Sacred, and the Sublime in Literature and Theory (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2010) and Art and Artifact in Austen (University of Virginia Press, 2020). Her research has been supported by fellowships from SSHRC, Chawton House, and Gladstone’s Library. Before coming to Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College, she taught full-time at the Royal Military College of Canada, Biola University in Southern California, and Tyndale University in Toronto, where she also served as Associate Dean of undergraduate studies for four years. She is an adult convert to the Catholic faith who was drawn to the Church by the sustaining peace she found in the mass and by the magisterium’s commitment to the beauty, goodness, and truth of the gospel. Dr. Duquette enjoys teaching courses on eighteenth-century satire, aesthetics, Jane Austen, African literature, and Indigenous writers of North America.