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Prof. Emma Mason (Warwick) Kinship and kenosis: Christina Rossetti’s originary grace

July 5, 2017, 5:15pm BST - 6:45pm
Queen Mary Centre for Religion and Literature in English, Queen Mary University of London

Graduate Centre room 222
Mile End Road
London E1 4NS
United Kingdom

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This paper locates grace at the heart of Christina Rossetti’s writing, one she invokes as a way to shatter subjectivism to return the Christian worshipper to a primordial level of engaged existence in which subject/object have not yet been differentiated. I suggest this is an ecological move that posits grace as an originary state that gathers the universe into a corporate existence: grace is not an experience for Rossetti, but a calling in which all created things come into themselves by belonging together. As a Tractarian, Rossetti follows an Anglo-Catholic understanding of nature and the cosmos as always already graced, wherein all created things share an ontological kinship with a divine origin with which they participate through grace. With reference to her religious prose writing and final collection of poetry, Verses (1893), I show that Rossetti understands all creation as oriented towards God through grace, a movement broken only by the de-sacralizing logic of secularism in the guise of capitalism and empire. I argue for a specifically Tractarian reading of grace in her writing, one that promotes communion and fellowship through a disclosure of grace suited to poetry and art, which both track the gift of grace and give it back in a recognizable form.

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