School of Divinity

News and Events

News and Events at the Scottish Network for Religion and Literature

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Upcoming Events

Book Launch for The End of the Church? Conversations with the Work of David Jasper 

1 June 2023, 4-5:30pm, Rainy Hall

The Scottish Network for Religion and Literature is delighted to host the launch of The End of the Church? Conversations with the Work of David Jasper, edited by Bridget Nichols and Nicholas Taylor. Speakers will include Elisabeth Jay (Professor Emerita of English at Oxford Brookes University), the editors and Natalie Watson from Sacristy Press. Professor David Jasper will respond.

The formal event will be in the Elizabeth Templeton Lecture Theatre from 4-5.30pm, and will be followed by a reception in the Rainy Hall from 5.30-6.15pm.

Please register to attend on Eventbrite.


David Jasper

David Jasper is Emeritus Professor of Literature and Theology in Glasgow University and an Honorary Professor of New College, Edinburgh. He was formerly Principal of St Chad’s College, Durham, where he founded the Centre for Literature and Theology. He has held visiting and honorary positions in other universities in Britain, North America, and China. A priest of the Scottish Episcopal Church, he is Canon Theologian of St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow, and was twice Convenor of the Doctrine Committee. His numerous publications include the trilogy, The Sacred Desert, The Sacred Body, The Sacred Community.

Elisabeth Jay

Elisabeth Jay is Professor Emerita of English at Oxford Brookes University where she was Director of the Institute for Historical and Cultural Research. Her research interests lie predominantly in the xviii The End of the Church? nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and she has published widely on the fiction, prose and poetry of this period. Her other major interest lies in the interdisciplinary area of literature and theology where she has frequently collaborated with David Jasper: they were co-editors, along with Andrew Hass, of The Oxford Handbook of English Literature and Theology (2007).

Past Events

A collection of past events hosted by the Scottish Network for Religion and Literature:

Sanctity as a Story: Literary-Studies Perspectives on Narrative Patterns

24 January 2023, 1-2pm, Baillie Room

The Scottish Network for Religion and Literature hosts a seminar with Dr Halszka Leleń.

Edwin Morgan's A.D. A Trilogy of Plays on the Life of Jesus: In discussion with James McGonigal and David Jasper

25 January 2022

The Scottish Network for Religion and Literature is delighted to host a discussion between James McGonigal and David Jasper on Edwin Morgan's A.D. A Trilogy of Plays on the Life of Jesus. This event will take place in the Baillie Room in New College at 4.00pm. 

Edwin Morgan (1920-2010) was one of Scotland's most influential and best-loved poets of the twentieth century. The first official Scots Makar of the modern era, he was praised by Seamus Heaney as a writer 'whose achievement shines fuller and steadier as the decades pass.'

James McGonigal is a poet, occasional critic, and literary executor of Edwin Morgan. Formerly a school teacher and teacher educator, he retired from Glasgow University in 2009 as Professor of English in Education. Edwin Morgan supervised his research on British Modernist poetry in the 1970s, and they remained friends thereafter. As a focus of shared interest, they reflected on the poet’s life. This became Beyond the Last Dragon: A Life of Edwin Morgan (2010, 2012) which won the Saltire Research Book of the Year Award.

'Imagination, Theology, and Literature'

9 February 2022

Professor Paul FIddes (Professor of Systematic Theology, University of Oxford) will give the first annual lecture in honour of the late Professor DWD Shaw, sponsored by the Hope Trust, Theology in Scotland and the Scottish Network for Religion and Literature. The lecture, entitled 'Imagination, Theology, and Literature', will take place online from 5-6.15pm.

For further details about how to access the lecture, please contact Dr Alison Jack.

In conversation with…. Christine de Luca

15 February 2022

Following her hugely popular appearance at the Winter Tales Book Festival last month, the Edinburgh poet Christine de Luca will discuss her work and the significance of religious themes within it.

The event will take place in New College from 5-6pm.


‘Modernism, Nominalism, and the Hidden God in Samuel Beckett, Wallace Stevens, and David Jones’

8 March 2023

Prof Erik Tonning (University of Bergen and Visiting Fellow at the School of Divinity) delivers the Scottish Network for Religion and Literature's seminar, focusing on the topic of ‘Modernism, Nominalism, and the Hidden God in Samuel Beckett, Wallace Stevens, and David Jones’.

A joint seminar with Theology and Ethics. 

Chitra Ramaswamy in conversation about Homelands: The History of a Friendship

13 March 2023

We are delighted to welcome Chitra Ramaswamy to talk about her latest book: a hybrid biography/memoir exploring her friendship with a 98-year-old German Jewish refugee called Henry Wuga.

Exploring Robert Louis Stevenson's interaction with Christianity in the South Pacific

Tuesday 23rd February 2021 

The Centre held a meeting jointly with the Centre for the Study of World Christianity, exploring Robert Louis Stevenson's interaction with Christianity in the South Pacific. The speakers were Dr Michael Ratnapalan (Underwood International College, Yonsei University) and Dr Kirsty Murray (School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh). 

In conversation with ... Alison Mukherjee

Tuesday 23rd March 2021

Alison Mukherjee obtained a BA in Theology from the University of Hull, then taught in a mission school in northern India before returning to UK with her Bengali husband and two daughters. She taught religious studies to secondary school pupils and undergraduates before training as a social worker and taking up posts in local authority children and families and older people teams. In 2002 she was awarded a doctorate from Birmingham University. She is a member of the Religious Society of Friends.

Alison’s novels include Nirmal Babu’s Bride (2002); An Untimely Frost (2013); Isabella’s Book (2016) and Is that a Paintbrush? (2018).

‘Unforgettable, Unforgotten? Continuing the recovery of Scottish women writers, c.1880-1940’

Tuesday 29th June 2021

Taking inspiration from ‘Unforgettable, Unforgotten’ – the title of prolific Scottish author Anna Buchan’s 1945 autobiography – it heard papers from scholars who are investigating and exploring overlooked, marginalised, or ‘forgotten’ Scottish women writers between 1880 and 1940.

Following the short papers, a roundtable discussion took place featuring scholars working on in the field of Scottish literature and on the recovery of Scottish women writers. Chaired by Dr Alison Jack (School of Divinity, New College, University of Edinburgh), our roundtable guests were Prof Glenda Norquay (Liverpool John Moore University), Prof Juliet Shields (University of Washington), Dr Valentina Bold (Crichton Trust), Dr Scott Lyall (Edinburgh Napier University) and Dr Kate Mathis (University of Glasgow).

Watch the recording of the event

Presidential Lecture: 'Poetry, Prayer and Praise'

Thursday 26th August 2021

Friends of the Scottish Network for Religion and Literature might be interested to note that Dr Alison Jack gave her presidential lecture to the Church Service Society in Greyfriar's Kirk, Edinburgh. The title of the lecture was 'Poetry, Prayer and Praise'.

The lecture may be viewed on-line via Zoom. To obtain the access code for the meeting, contact Douglas Galbraith (

You can find more information about seminars within the School of Divinity at Edinburgh University on the seminar events page.

A joint seminar with the History of Christianity Research Seminar in the Rainy Hall

25 October 2021

Dr Anna Mackay (School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures, University of Edinburgh) gave a lecture on ‘“He who has seen me has seen the Father”: The Veronica Legend in Medieval England’.

The launch of Winter Tales, A Festival of Literature, Religion and the Imagination

28 October 2021

This event marks the launch of the Winter Tales programme, with a panel discussion on 'The Dangerous Craft of Writing Biography'. Members of staff from the School will share their experiences of writing the lives of ancient and modern public figures: Professor Helen Bond, Professor of Christian Origins, Head of the School of Divinity, on 'The First Biography of Jesus: Genre and Meaning in Mark's Gospel' (Eerdmans, 2020): Dr Lindon Bicket, Lecturer in Literature and Religion, on 'Rhythms and images and legends are everywhere: George Mackay Brown's Orkney' (Tippermuir Books, 2021): Dr James Eglinton, Meldrum Senior Lecturer in Reformed Theology, on 'Bavinck: A Critical Biography' (Baker Academic, 2020); and Dr Emma Wild-Wood, Senior Lecturer, African Christianity and African Indigenous Religions, on 'The Mission of Apolo Kivebulaya: Religious Encounter & Social Change in the Great Lakes c.1865-1935' (2020). This was then followed by a reception in the Rainy Hall.

“Narrative Time and Mystical Theology in Late Fifteenth-Century England”

15 November 2021

A lecture by Professor Laura Saetveit Miles (University of Bergen) on “Narrative Time and Mystical Theology in Late Fifteenth-Century England”. Co-organised by the Scottish Network for Religion and Literature (University of Edinburgh) and the Literature and Religion research group (University of Bergen). Carthusian monk Richard Methley, the greatest late-medieval English mystic no one has heard of, wrote an idiosyncratic Latin diary of his visionary experiences over the fall of 1487. This talk looks at how he combines liturgical time and present-tense narrative to evoke the experience of divine union.

Samuel Tongue at the Scottish Poetry Library

23 November 2021

Dr Samuel Tongue, poet and Project Co-ordinator of the Library, read from his work followed by the opportunity to view some of the resources of the library, led by the librarians, and a wine reception.

Winter Tales: A festival of Religion, Literature and the Imagination

3-5 December 2021

Winter Tales took place in the iconic New College buildings, running from 3-5 December 2021. In celebration of 175 years of ground-breaking research into religion, spirituality and the arts, we were delighted to host our first ever literary festival. There was an array of top speakers and writers from the UK and beyond as we explored the relationship between belief and fiction, religion and pluralism, the complex web of religion, politics and the environment, the darker side of religion and crime fiction and much more.

‘Exploring the role of religion in Scottish Literature: Inviting the Ghost to the Feast’

January 2020

The SNRL was launched with an event entitled ‘Exploring the role of religion in Scottish Literature: Inviting the Ghost to the Feast’, organised in collaboration with Scottish Writing in the Nineteenth Century (SWINC). Speakers included Robert Irvine on ‘Presbyterianism, ‘Scottish Literature’ and John Galt’s Annals of the Parish’; David Jasper on ‘Margaret Oliphant: A woman writer and churchmen in 19th century Scotland’; and Linden Bicket on ‘The ‘writer who happens to be a Catholic’ and 20th century literary criticism’. The novelist James Robertson offered a closing response.

Discussing religious themes in Alasdair Gray's work

12 February 2020

An ongoing series of In Conversation With... meetings with writers, literary critics and religious commentators commenced with an exploration of religious themes in the work of Alasdair Gray, with Rodge Glass and Sorcha Dallas.

In conversation with ...  Anne Donovan

22 October 2020

Anne Donovan is the author of the short story collection, Hieroglyphics and other Stories (2001), and the novels, Buddha Da, Being Emily and Gone Are The Leaves, all published by Canongate. Her short story All That Glisters won the prestigious Macallan/Scotland on Sunday Award. Buddha Da was shortlisted for many prizes including the Orange Prize and the Dublin International IMPAC Award, and won Le Prince Maurice Award in Mauritius. Gone Are The Leaves was shortlisted for the Saltire Scottish Literary Book of the Year Award.

Watch the recording of the event

Literature and Religion: A Dialogue between China and the West

25 November 2020

The Scottish Network for Religion and Literature hosted David Jasper and Ou Guang-an as they introduced their new book, 'Literature and Religion: A Dialogue between China and the West' (Wipf and Stock, 2020). 

Watch the recording of the event

A Voyage to Arcturus and Beyond: David Lindsay’s Visionary Imagination

Wed December 9, 2020 

Around 25 were in attendance at this online event, which we believe was the first academic event to explore the full range of Lindsay's work, including his most well-known novel, A Voyage to Arcturus, due for republication in Penguin's new Classic Science Fiction series in June 2021.

The zoom event was ably supported technically by Daniel Abercrombie at the Scottish Storytelling Centre and featured quite a packed programme of 11 presentations, including music and film, plus Q&A. The event was recorded in full and the video will soon be available to participants and other enquirers.

The organisers are now working on a proposal for an edited volume based around these papers. We are also exploring funding possibilities to work with Lindsay's archive in the NLS, and to steer his final unpublished dream novel, The Witch, into print.

There is a brief description of the symposium by Murray Ewing on his excellent Violet Apple website.