DITA is energized by cutting-edge research at the interface of theology and the arts with special attention to music, literature, and the visual arts. This research is conducted by DITA director and Thomas A. Langford Research Professor of Theology Jeremy Begbie, as well as by postdoctoral associates and students. The major collaborative research project is the Duke-Cambridge Collaboration.
Professor Begbie has for many years pursued sustained research and publication, especially in the field of theology and music. His recent publications include:
- Music Modernity, and God: Essays in Listening (Oxford: Oxford University Press, December 2013)
- "The Future of Theology Amid the Arts: Some Reformed Reflections" in Christ Across the Disciplines: Past, Present, Future, ed. Roger Lundin (Eerdmans, 2013)
- “Natural Theology and Music” in The Oxford Handbook of Natural Theology, ed. Russell Re Manning (Oxford University Press, 2013)
Research at DITA
Our interdisciplinary work aims to show how theology can reinvigorate the arts, and how the arts can reinvigorate theology. Watch a short video to learn more.
Also at the heart of DITA is a cohort of doctoral students who meet regularly to encourage each other, examine recent writing, and share samples of their own emerging work. Students are pursuing a range of research projects, including:
- 16th century iconoclasm and accompanying early modern understandings of the image, idolatry, and sacramental theology
- The consequences of a covenantal, Christ-centered doctrine of creation for the practices of art-making
- Theology, architecture and the built environment, specifically their role in shaping Christian worship, identity, and imagination
- The theological aesthetics as practical theology, essentially considering the place of beauty in the normal Christian life
- The intersection of theology and music, with a particular emphasis on modern aesthetics
- How the arts shape our identities, including race and gender, and how this interacts with Christian formation
Since 2009, DITA has promoted a research collaboration between Duke University and Cambridge University in the UK. The first phase culminated in the April 2014 performance of James MacMillan's St. Luke Passion.
The second phase, entitled “Theology, Modernity, and the Arts” addresses the question of how the arts can contribute to the theological narration of modernity, particularly a narration that employs New Creation in Christ as a guiding integrative vision. The goal of this second phase is to produce a series of publications, commissioned art works, and online resources over a four-year period from 2015-2018.
The project aims to demonstrate:
- that the arts can bear their own kind of witness to the theological dynamics that have characterized and shaped modernity.
- that arts of modernity can give voice to particular questions, cultural quandries or impasses that call for, and have already called for, scriptural and creedal responses rooted in a theology of New Creation.
- that the arts can open up ways of addressing and moving beyond some of the intractable dilemmas and pathologies which have hampered modern theology.
- that the Scriptural theme of the New Creation, realized and promised in Christ, has immense potential for elaborating a theological treatment of the trajectories of modernity, a potential neglected or underdeveloped in many of the existing accounts.
Members of the Steering Group
- Jeremy Begbie (Chair), Thomas A. Langford Research Professor of Theology, Duke Divinity; Affiliated Lecturer, Faculty of Music University of Cambridge
- David Ford, Regius Professor of Theology, University of Cambridge
- Tom Greggs, Professor of Historical & Doctrinal Theology, University of Aberdeen
- Jennie Grillo, Assistant Professor of Old Testament, Duke Divinity School
- Richard Hays, George Washington Ivey Professor of New Testament, Duke Divinity School
- Gregory Jones, Former Dean & Senior Strategist for Leadership Education at Duke Divinity School
- Chloe Reddaway, Howard & Roberta Ahmanson Fellow in Art and Religion at the National Gallery, London
- Michael O'Siadhail, poet
- Alan Torrance, Professor of Systematic Theology, University of St. Andrews