Romana Huk is an associate professor of English who specializes in 20th century British literature and postmodern poetics. She serves as the editor-in-chief for Religion and Literature and she is currently working on a book called “Rewrit[ing] the word ‘God’”: In the Arc of Postmodern Theory, Theology and Poetry.
What is the topic of your upcoming book?
Playing with the notion of God as rewriteable and not written in stone…in the course of writing this book, I have been researching theology. So if you take the idea literally, thinking about God or rethinking about God in avant-garde poetry, I’m looking at what kind of thinking goes on there. Political radicalism and theology work hand in hand in poetry. In poetic thinking, much of what happens in groundbreaking philosophy goes on in a different form. I examine what form philosophical thinking takes in poetry. Even philosophers, like Heidegger, said we’re at an end of poetry. So I take them at their word and look at what happens in the 20th century that thinks about God. It’s really great doing work at Notre Dame. I’m editing the journal Religion and Literature for the first time and it has really fed my research. I couldn’t be better situated than at Notre Dame and in this position.
What advice do you give to your students?
I recently had a student say that a book we read by Thomas Merton was exceedingly exciting. That’s what makes me happy — when I feel as though a course I teach, in which students read poets, who are always reading everything, realize they need to read more broadly. They put together things they wouldn’t normally. Especially in the realm of religion, I like it when they decide to think outside the box, from the perspectives of others. I would tell them not to be afraid of that, but to see it as a release from certain cages of thought. Just become aware for new possibilities of thinking and believing.
What will you be doing in the spring?
I will be a Bye-Fellow at Cambridge at Robinson College in the spring. I’ll be having discussions about how to bring Cambridge’s scholars of theology and poetics into conversation with faculty members at Notre Dame. Notre Dame has been incredibly generous about supporting this work and developing relationships with other great universities, especially in academic fields of religion and literature. Universities used to be very secular places at the turn of the millenium. Now they’re almost post-secular. Religion can be discussed again ... for a long time it was taboo, the poor cousin of science. Now we’re terribly interested in it because it has gone unstudied for so long.
Catherine Picstock and I will be working together. She and I will be talking about a poem from her purview as a theologian and mine from that of a literary scholar. We want to see what theology can teach literary folks and what literary folks can teach theologians. We hope to explore the payoff of bringing these two subjects together on writing, truth and God.