Title

The Poetics of Loss: A Theological Reading of Selected Works of Matthew Arnold

Date of Award

1-1-2020

Degree Name

M.A. in Theological Studies

Department

Department of Religious Studies

Advisor/Chair

Advisor: William Portier

Abstract

The Poetics of Loss: A Theological Reading of Selected Works of Matthew Arnold is one Catholic theologian's attempt to make sense of the mysterious, and possibly troubling, claim that Arnold is "a serious theological thinker." If the author finds this claim mysterious, it is not least because Arnold's poetry engages and relies on a `poetics of loss,' which the author defines as Arnold's felt sense of isolation, disintegration, and hopelessness as he observes the Sea of Faith retreating. Despite what must be to the Catholic theologian Arnold's troubling and troubled existential, religious, and socio-historical commitments, however, the author argues that Arnold's poetry is precisely where Arnold is most theologically significant, relevant, and compelling. This is in contradistinction to those critics who locate Arnold's theological significance in his religious prose writings. The author's theo-poetic retrieval of Arnold is aided by a close reading of Karl Rahner's "Poetry and the Christian" and "Priest and Poet," which he then applies to Matthew Arnold's "The Buried Life."

Keywords

Literature, Religion, Theology, Matthew Arnold, Victorian Crisis of Faith, Karl Rahner, poetics of loss, poetry, Christianity

Rights Statement

Copyright 2020, author

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