The vision of DITA is to promote a vibrant interplay between Christian theology and the arts within the Divinity School by contributing toward transformative leadership within the Church, academy, and society, and enriching theological education in the Church, academy, and society.
DITA was established in 2009 by the current director, Jeremy Begbie, a leading voice in the conversation between faith and the arts. Since then, it has gone from strength to strength. Several regular M.Div. courses have been offered, and there have been about six doctoral students enrolled at any one time. In addition to the Director's numerous publications, DITA has established a bi-annual Distinguished Lecture Series, several concerts and exhibitions, and a major trans-Atlantic collaboration with the University of Cambridge, an Artist-in-Residence scheme, a Visiting Scholar arrangement, and the appointment of a post-Doctoral Associate.
DITA's Distinctive Character
Set within a Divinity School, DITA'S theological commitments comes from the School's concern to foster "scriptural imagination," especially one that pays attention to the biblical vision of a New Creation, enacted and promised in Jesus Christ.
Set within a major University, DITA'S primary energy comes from research and teaching: by a concern to promote and encourage rigorous scholarly work at the interface between theology and the arts, which can be transported into effective, imaginative teaching.
Set within a culture that both marginalizes the arts as irrelevant to truth and at the same time can often idolize the arts as quasi-divine, DITA's concern is to show how the arts can be distinctive and powerful media of theological truth, yet precisely as created, limited, and partial.
Set within an ongoing relationship to the UK through its Director, DITA's concern is to capitalize on its links with the UK and Europe, especially with the University of Cambridge.
Faculty & Staff
Jeremy Begbie, Director
Jeremy Begbie is the inaugural holder of the Thomas A. Langford Research Professorship in Theology. He teaches systematic theology, and he specializes in the interface between theology and the arts. His particular research interests are in the interplay between music and theology. Professor Begbie spends one semester each year (currently spring) at Duke Divinity School and the other semester at Cambridge. He is also Senior Member at Wolfson College, Cambridge, and an Affiliated Lecturer in the Faculty of Music at the University of Cambridge. (Full Biography and Speaking Engagements)
Daniel Train, Postdoctoral Associate, 2013-14
Daniel Train was born and raised in Sucre, Bolivia, received his B.A. in English from Biola University, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Baylor—the latter in religion and literature. His dissertation focuses on the work of Flannery O’Connor and readers’ attempts to understand her use of violence in her fiction. While finishing his Ph.D., Train also served at Baylor’s School of Education as faculty partner for freshmen learning groups. He is married to Hillary, and together they have a daughter named Amelie. Train loves porches, sharing meals with others, and enjoying the outdoors as much as possible.
Train will join DITA as its first postdoctoral associate, remaining for the full academic year, 2013-14. As well as working on his own research project on the topic of redemptive suffering, he will be teaching courses in theology and literature for DITA and participating in seminars with doctoral students.
Mary Jo Clancy, Administrative Assistant
Mary Jo Clancy brings her life-long interest in visual and auditory arts, her skills in administrative support and her desire to serve as a member of God's kingdom together in her role as administrative assistant for Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts. Most recently, she was in a similar position for the Duke Center for Reconciliation. Mary Jo and her husband, Tom, share life with their three grown children and their ever-expanding families. She believes that the tiniest parts of God's creation are truly the greatest -- seeds, dandelions, children and chickadees -- and is always hoping to capture the delight she finds in those with her camera.
Tanner Capps, Th.D. Student
Tanner Capps is from Westminster, South Carolina. He received his B.A. in English and Visual Art from Anderson College (2004) and the M.A. in Religion with a concentration in theological studies from Westminster Theological Seminary (2009). His research focuses on 16th century iconoclasm and accompanying early modern understandings of the image, idolatry, and sacramental theology. In connection with these topics, he is also interested in the role the visual arts play in theological and religious formation. He currently teaches in the Department of Religious Studies St. Andrews University in Laurinburg, North Carolina. He and his wife, Hannah, have a one year-old daughter. Tanner is a devotee of Atlanta Braves baseball.
Brian Curry, Th.D. Student
Brian Curry grew up in Nashville, Tenn. At Vanderbilt, he studied music, German, and biology and graduated with a B.S. in 2003. After college, he spent time doing research in clinical pharmacology and teaching music. In 2008 he received an M.Div. from Covenant Theological Seminary. As a doctoral student, his research investigates the consequences of a covenantal, Christ-centered doctrine of creation for the practices of art-making. Other interests include theological ethics, New Testament theology, and theology and natural science. He attends All Saints Church, and in his free time, enjoys playing saxophone and guitar, and spending time with his wife, Andrea, and their four children.
Joelle Hathaway, Th.D. Student
Joelle Hathaway grew up near Seattle, WA and studied at Seattle Pacific University, where she met her husband Brent Smith. She graduated SPU in 2005 with a major in Sociology and a minor in Christian Scriptures. In 2009 she completed her M.T.S. at Duke Divinity School, her thesis comparing the architectural visions of hope for Coventry Cathedral and Memory Foundations, the master plan for Ground Zero. As a doctoral student, her research interests continue to be focused on Theology, Architecture and the Built Environment, specifically their role in shaping Christian worship, identity, and imagination. Issues relating to Christian engagement with urban spaces and ecological concerns, as well as sacred architecture, will be central to her study. Joelle and her husband attend St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Durham. When time allows, they also enjoy ballroom and salsa dancing.
Bo Helmich, Th.D. Student
Having grown up in the mountains of Colorado, Bo Helmich enjoys the oxygen-rich air of the South (except during the summer, when heat and humidity make him wonder why he ever left). Bo holds degrees from Stanford, Oxford, and the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary. Prior to coming to Duke, he served for a number of years as a local church pastor, teacher and worship leader. Building on this foundation, his dissertation research treats theological aesthetics as practical theology, essentially considering the place of beauty in the normal Christian life. Bo and his wife Anne have four excellent children, all named for saints and poets. As time allows he pursues his love of songwriting by escaping to Nashville, guitar in hand.
Nate Jones, Th.D. Student
Nate Jones grew up in Chapel Hill, NC, the son of two United Methodist ministers. He graduated from Duke University in 2009 with a B.A. in American history and religion, and from Duke Divinity School in 2012 with an M.Div. focused on Christian theology. His doctoral work focuses on the intersection of theology and music, with a particular emphasis on modern aesthetics. Nate is also a classically-trained baritone, who has won vocal competitions in the US and Europe, and has sung professionally in both opera and oratorio. His wife, Amy, is an internal medicine resident at Duke Hospital, and in his spare time, he enjoys playing disc golf, brewing beer and working for the Duke football team.
Jacki Price-Linnartz, Th.D. Student
Jacki Price-Linnartz grew up in the woods near Boone, N.C. In 2005, she graduated from Duke University with a B.S. in psychology and a minor in English, and after that she nabbed an M.T.S. and Th.M. from Duke Divinity School. As a doctoral student, her research asks how the arts shape our identities, including race and gender, and how this interacts with Christian formation. Jacki attends Resurrection United Methodist Church with her husband and best friend, Isaac, who practices law in Raleigh. In her free time she tries her hand at visual art and creative writing, and she has been sighted wearing face paint for Duke basketball.