October 10, 2007 | Myrna Anderson

A renowned literary theorist will speak at Calvin College this month on connections between literature and Scripture.

A renowned literary theorist will speak at Calvin College this month on the connections between literature and Scripture.

J. Hillis Miller's talk is titled “Literature and Scripture: An Impossible Filiation” and will be delivered on Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. in, appropriately enough, the Calvin Chapel. It is free and open to all.

Miller is considered one of the most significant North American literary critics of the 20th century. A prolific theorist and critic, he earned fame in the 1980s as one of the four Yale School critics, a group Calvin English professor Jennifer Williams says was largely responsible for introducing deconstruction to American literary studies.

At Calvin, Miller will discuss the relation between literature and Scripture, taking Toni Morrison's novel Beloved and Dante's classic The Divine Comedy as examples of literature, and the Abraham and Isaac story and the Mary Magdalene story at the end of Luke (her recognition of the risen Christ) as examples of Scriptural stories.

Miller will claim they make quite different claims on the reader's allegiance, but that Western literature, even the most secular, inherits essential things from Scripture.

“He also will discuss the so-called ‘turn to religion’ in the humanities today from the perspective of a long career that has seen fads come and go and religion relocate in university life,” said Williams.

The talk is sponsored by the Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship, the Office of the Provost, the Department of English and the Department of Communication Arts and Sciences.

Miller will also be holding office hours for interested faculty and students while in Grand Rapids and will lead an informal student retreat on the vocation of majoring in the humanities.

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