Table of Contents: Issue 14

Editors: Barbara Vrachnas & James Leveque


Guest Article

The Sacred, the Sacrilegious, and the Elegiac in Dennis O’Driscoll’s Poetry: “Missing God” and Other Poems

Joseph C. Heininger, Assistant Professor of English, Dominican University

Contemporary Irish poet Dennis O’Driscoll’s poetry makes explicit connections between human beings in a world marked by emotional disconnection, loss of belief in God and God’s presence, and the repetition of routinized experiences. Through its plain yet eloquent discursive style, O’Driscoll’s poetry addresses themes of love and separation, life and death, and the sacred and the sacrilegious in a colloquial manner and with an understated tone that together invite his readers to examine central moral, spiritual, and intellectual concerns. In poems specifically addressing the question of God’s absence or presence, he articulates a perspective of discontent with anemic modern expressions of faith, one that shows a recognition of what has been lost as faith in a personal God and an accompanying sense of the sacred steadily recede. I will examine how O’Driscoll’s approach to the question of the presence of the sacred and the sacrilegious in the contemporary world yields poems rich in elegiac themes about the awareness of God’s withdrawal or absence, the body’s undeniable physicality, and the recognition of mortality.



The Sacred Dragon in the Woods: on Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem

Julia Boll, University of Edinburgh

This article will trace how Jerusalem portrays, in Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron, the figure of what Giorgio Agamben calls thehomo sacer, the bare life, as a character that encapsulates both the scapegoat and the monster, and on which thus the dreams and the fears of the community equally settle (Agamben, passim). His liminal state of being signifies the watershed between accepted and unaccepted, desired and undesired, and ultimately between disenfranchised and free. In this way, the play is revealed as a depiction not only of the state of England, but of how contemporary societies treat their outcasts. 

Investigating Claims of Eroticism in Images of the Annunciation

Frank Ferrie, Birkbeck College, University of London

By the Renaissance, the Virgin Mary had been considered a paragon of virtue for over a thousand years. But with the new naturalism in art, certain images of her were considered profane or even sacrilegious. This article examines theAnnunciation and asks whether it was put at risk by naturalism.

Exploring How William Blake Views The Sacred ‘Fall’ Of Judeo-Christianity As Triggering A Sacrilegious ‘Fall Of Man’, Utilising The Ideas of Friedrich Nietzsche

Jenny Hollander, University of Leeds

This essay examines the writing of William Blake, and to a lesser extent the philosophies of Friedrich Nietzsche, to argue that both men fiercely claim that instutitionalised Christianity has caused a ‘fall of man’ akin to a Miltonic, post-lapsarian ‘fall’.

Sacred/Sacrilegious Tourism in Emily Dickinson's Poems

Li-hsin Hsu, University of Edinburgh

This paper investigates Emily Dickinson's poems of spiritual tourism. By examining her metaphors of commerce and tourism, I show how her poems subvert the boundary between sacredness and obscenity. Her depictions of spiritual quest both register and resist what William Stowe suggests as an empowering process in travel, opening up a Bakhtinian carnivalesque space, in which religious and social hierarchy can be challenged and redefined.

‘Numinous’ and ‘Negatively Numinous’ in Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Lucy Linforth, University of Edinburgh

This paper explores the complicated and mutually dependent relationship of the sacred and sacrilegious, as presented in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Drawing from Rudolf Otto’s theory of the “numinous” presence of the holy, this paper explores the presentation of negatively numinous presence, which is related as well as antithetical to the holy.

Angels of Punishment and the Sword of God: Symbols of Justice or Tyranny?

Emily Paterson-Morgan, University of Bristol

The inherent ambiguity of the imagery in Genesis 3.24 and Matthew 10.34 provides the focus of this article, addressing the theme of Sacred and Sacrilegious by investigating how these biblical passages were used to express negative apprehensions of God and Christianity.