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date: 04 April 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter locates religion at the heart of Victorian literary culture and explores the reciprocal relationship between literary and religious forms, texts, and aesthetics. After outlining the relationship between literature and religion in the period, the chapter reflects on how modern criticism reads this relationship, both historically and philosophically. Suggesting that new historicism and cultural formalism are sometimes methodologically limited in assessing the experiential and immaterial aspects of the literature and religion debate, the chapter asks how criticism might rethink it. Theopoetics and the affective turn are offered as possible ways into the debate, as is the non-dualist approach of Martin Heidegger. Heidegger’s emphasis on care through patient and communal reading forms the basis of what the chapter calls pastoralism, a compassionate and discerning mode of reading attuned to a Victorian perception of ‘love’, ‘spirit’, ‘faith’, and ‘grace’ through religious discourse.

Keywords: religion and literature, rhythm, theopoetics, pastoralism, John Keble, Christina Rossetti, Martin Heidegger

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