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Ralph C. Wood

University Professor of Theology and Literature


  • B. A., Texas A&M University-Commerce (formerly East Texas State College), 1963 (with academic distinction)
  • M. A., Texas A&M University-Commerce, 1965. Thesis: "The Scandal of Redemption: Religious Meaning in the Novels of Flannery O'Connor" (Paul W. Barrus, director)
  • A. M., University of Chicago, 1968
  • Ph. D., University of Chicago, 1975. Dissertation: "Joyce Cary's Vitalism: A Theological Critique of the First Trilogy" (Nathan A. Scott, Jr., director; Martin E. Marty and Wayne C. Booth, readers)


Ralph C. Wood has served as University Professor of Theology and Literature at Baylor since 1998. He previously served for 26 years on the faculty of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he became the John Allen Easley Professor of Religion in 1990. He has also taught at Samford University in Birmingham, at Regent College in Vancouver, and at Providence College in Rhode Island. At Baylor, his main appointment is in the Religion Department, but he also teaches in the Great Texts program as well as the Department of English. He serves as an editor-at-large for the Christian Century and as an editorial board member for both the Flannery O'Connor Review and Seven: An Anglo-American Literary Review.

Academic Interests and Research:

"I seek to interpret several of the major literary texts of the West, especially from the 19th and 20th centuries, from a confessionally Christian angle of vision. My aim is to show the relevance of these books to the witness of the Church as well as to the life of secular culture."

Professional Awards and Activities:

The Robert J. Randall Chair of Christian Culture, Providence College, Providence, Rhode Island, 2010-2011

Mary Ann Remick Senior Visiting Fellowship, University of Notre Dame, 2007-2008.

Board of Directors of the Flannery O'Connor-Andalusia Foundation, 2006-present.

Second Place, 2005 Catholic Press Association Award for Biography (Flannery O'Connor and the Christ-Haunted South [Eerdmans, 2004).

Distinguished Alumnus of Texas A & M University-Commerce, October 2002.

One of 12 scholars invited to join the American Literature and Religion Project sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Erasmus Institute of Notre Dame, 2001-2005.

Jon Reinhardt Award for Distinguished Teaching among Senior Faculty, Wake Forest University, 1991.

Manuscript Reviewer, Christianity and Literature, 1989-present.

Editor-at-Large, The Christian Century, 1988-present.

Book Review Editor, Perspectives in Religious Studies, 1988-2003.

Vice President, Southeastern Association of Baptist Professors of Religion, 1985 86. President, 1986-87.

Editor, Dissertation Series, National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion, 1984 1987.

Editorial Advisory Board, The Flannery O'Connor Review, 1982-present.

Chief author of a successful proposal to the Henry Luce Foundation for a three year, $75,000 program entitled "Religion and the Social Crisis," 1981 84.

National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for College Teachers, 1982-83. Topic: "The Comedy of Redemption: Literary Vision and Theological Doctrine in Six Modern Writers."

R. J. Reynolds Research Leaves, Wake Forest University, for study at the Istituto Lorenzo de' Medici, Florence, Italy, (1977); and at King's College, University of London (1988).

Chairman of the Arts, Literature and Religion section of the Southeast American Academy of Religion, 1978 80.

Reid-Doyle Junior Faculty Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, Wake Forest University, 1979.

Manuscript Referee for Princeton, Pennsylvania State, Illinois, Missouri, Notre Dame, Yale and Oxford university presses as well as for Eerdmans, Abingdon, and Rowman & Littlefield commercial publishers.

Selected Research Articles:

"The Lady with the Torn Hair Who Looks on Gladiators in Grapple: G. K. Chesterton's Marian Poems," Christianity and Literature 62, 1 (Autumn 2012): 29-55.

"Confronting the World's Weirdness: J. R. R. Tolkien's The Children of Húrin," in The Ring and the Cross: Christianity and The Lord of the Rings, ed. Paul E. Kerry (Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press; Plymouth, UK: Rowman and Littlefield, 2011): 145-51.

"J. R. R. Tolkien: His Sorrowful Vision of Joy," in C. S. Lewis and his Friends, ed. David Hein and Edward Henderson (London: SPCK, 2011): 116-34.

"Flannery O'Connor, Benedict XVI, and the Divine Eros," Christianity and Literature 60:1 (Autumn 2010): 35-66. Winner of the Lionel Basney Award for the best essay published in Christianity and Literature for 2011.

"Sacramental Suffering: The Friendship of Flannery O'Connor and Elizabeth Hester," Modern Theology 24:3 (July 2008): 387-411.

"How the Church Became Invisible: A Christian Reading of American Literary Tradition," (with Stanley Hauerwas) Religion and Literature 38, 1 (Spring 2006): 61-93.

"Conflict and Convergence on Fundamental Matters in C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien," Renascence LV, 4, Summer 2003): 315-338.

"Lest the World's Amnesia Be Complete: A Reading of Walter Miller's A Canticle for Leibowitz," Religion and Literature 33, 1 (Spring 2001): 23-41.

"Dostoevsky on Evil as a Perversion of Personhood: A Reading of Ivan Karamazov and the Grand Inquisitor," Perspectives in Religious Studies 26, 3 (Fall 1999): 331-48.

"Rapidly Rises the Morning Tide: An Essay on P. D. James' The Children of Men," Theology Today, 51, 2 (July 1994): 277-88.


Wood, ed. book 150Tolkien among the Moderns Ralph C. Wood, ed. (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame, 2015).

Chesterton: The Nightmare Goodness of God (Waco, Texas: Baylor University Press, 2011).

Preaching and Professing: Sermons by a Teacher Seeking to Profess the Gospel (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2009).

Literature and Theology [Horizons in Theology Series] (Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 2008).

Flannery O'Connor and the Christ-Haunted South (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2004). Issued in paperback 2005.

Contending for the Faith: Essays in the Church's Engagement with Culture. Waco, Texas: Baylor University Press, 2003.

The Gospel According to Tolkien: Visions of the Kingdom in Middle-earth. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003.

The Comedy of Redemption: Christian Faith and Comic Vision in Four American Novelists (Flannery O'Connor, Walker Percy, John Updike and Peter De Vries). Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1988. Still in print.

Courses Regularly Taught at Baylor

  • REL 4388: Christian Literary Classics
  • REL 5354: Neo-Liberal Theology and Its Alternatives
  • REL 5357: The 20th Century Catholic Renascence
  • Great Texts 3331: Christian Spiritual Classics
  • ENG 3372: The Oxford Christians
  • ENG 5376: Seminar in Religion and Literature


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