The CCTC aims to remedy this and give faculty a chance to try out work in progress – a book chapter, journal article or paper soon to be presented at a conference among a curious and inquisitive yet friendly environment close to home! We invite faculty to join us at a regular seminar gathering together faculty members to discuss their particular research and writings.
Soul-Sleep and Awakening: Gnosis in the Middle English Pearl and the “Hymn of the Pearl” in the Apocryphal Acts of Thomas
Maura Giles-Watson, PhD, English
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
12:30-2pm in the CCTC Suite, Maher 253
The 14th-century Middle English Pearl is an allegorical dream-vision poem in which a father mourns for his daughter who has died in early childhood. As the father falls asleep by a river and dreams that he is searching for a lost pearl, his lost daughter appears to him in a pearl-encrusted crown and opulent robes. Deploying erudite rhetoric and theology, the pearl-girl admonishes her father not to mourn her, but rather to celebrate her new life in heaven. Yet her grieving father still desires to have his pearl restored to him and he continues to resist his daughter’s doctrinal instruction.
In the Gnostic trajectory of salvation, allegorized in the “Hymn of the Pearl” in the Apocryphal Acts of Thomas, the soul is a white pearl—a spark of divine matter that has become separated from its source in the ‘light’ and inhabits the ‘darkness’ of the material world. This condition is termed ‘soul-sleep.’ In a dream or visitation, the soul is then ‘awakened’ from this sleep and made to remember the truth it has forgotten: it must return to its divine source. The final stage of this awakening is gnosis—knowledge of the divine. The Gnostic pearl-symbol thus constitutes both the vehicle and the object of the soul’s quest in the “Hymn of the Pearl” and, this paper argues, in the Middle English Pearl as well.
This paper analyzes the Middle English Pearl in relation to the Gnostic tradition, and examines the Pearl-poet’s adaptation of the Gnostic soul symbol for his putatively orthodox purposes. Although specifically excluded from the canon by St. Augustine, the Apocryphal Acts of Thomas enjoyed wide circulation in vernacular translations in Britain, continental Europe, and the Near East throughout the Middle Ages; for this reason questions of textual transmission and reception are also considered.
Maura Giles-Watson, PhD, teaches early English literature and drama and specializes in the Renaissance. She has taught at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Massachusetts-Boston; she also taught at the secondary level and holds teaching credentials in English and Latin. Maura plays the cello and previously served as Deputy Commissioner of the Office of Arts and Humanities in Boston.
The Many Faces of AIDS
Emily Reimer-Barry, PhD, Theology and Religious Studies
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
CCTC, Maher 253
Emily Reimer-Barry, PhD,has been a member of the Theology and Religious Studies faculty since 2008. She teaches undergraduate courses in Catholic theology, Christian ethics, sexual ethics, and ethical responses to HIV/AIDS. Her research interests include women’s experiences of HIV/AIDS, cross-cultural analysis of gender roles and marriage traditions, ethnography and ethical methodology, and the intersection of public health and Catholic social teachings.