Faculty Colloquium by Professor Wolfram Schmidgen: Theology and Literary Invention
In this talk, Professor Schmidgen argues that modern literary practices were shaped by religion. Voluntarism, a theology that emphasized a willful creator and denied that nature embodied truth and beauty, radicalized literary invention in the early eighteenth century. It allowed such writers as Richard Blackmore, John Locke, Jonathan Swift, and Daniel Defoe to invert the rules of composition and let energy dominate structure, matter create form, and parts be valued over the whole. In this way, voluntarism helped establish the literary value of the deformed, the infinite, and the counterfactual.