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University of Iowa News Release

 

Nov. 7, 2006

Geneva Lecture And Colloquium Will Be Nov. 15 And 29

David Jasper, professor of literature and theology at the University of Glasgow, will speak Nov. 15 and 29 at the University of Iowa as part of the Geneva Lecture Series.

The talks had been scheduled for Nov. 8 and 10, but were rescheduled as Jasper was injured in a car accident.

Jasper's lecture, "Asceticism as a Way of Love: The Life and Loves of a Desert Saint," will be held at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 15 in the Stanley Auditorium, Room 1505 in the UI Seamans Center.

This lecture will be about St. Mary of Egypt, who lived about the sixth century. She lived a life as a prostitute, was converted, spent decades in repentant solitude in the desert, was "discovered" by a holy monk, died and was buried in a miraculous way, and has been celebrated in church tradition as a model of repentance. Jasper will contrast the traditional version of the story, written by Sophronius in the seventh century, with a contemporary novel by Michele Roberts that in some ways reverses Mary's life story.

"Although they seem to give opposite impressions of this remarkable woman, they tell us the same story, teaching the way of love and the nature of the ascetic life. In the lives of the saints, things are not always what they seem," says Jasper. Lori Branch, an associate professor in the UI English Department, will give a response to the lecture.

A colloquium with Jasper, "Literature and Religious Studies: Challenges and Opportunities for New Interdisciplinary Work," is scheduled at 4 p.m. Nov. 29 on the third floor of Gilmore Hall. This will be a reflection and discussion on the problems and possibilities for the study of religion and the arts in the 21st century.

Jasper has degrees in both literature and theology. His work has been described as "a search for a post post-modern theology." Jasper's research interests include theology and modern European literature, religious aesthetics, language and liturgy, belief and the critical spirit, and theology and the visual arts. In 2004 he spent a semester as an Ida Beam Distinguished Visiting Professor at the UI. Jasper is the author or editor of 10 books, including "The Sacred Desert: Religion, Literature, Art, and Culture" (2004).

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: George McCrory, 319-384-0012, george-mccrory@uiowa.edu; Program: Ed Laarman, geneva@uiowa.edu or 319-341-0007