Art & Soul Festival To Explore Comedy, Religion And The Arts

March 30, 2005
News Photo 2717Acclaimed author Kaye Gibbons will speak at this year's Art and Soul.

by Julie Campbell Carlson

Baylor University's popular festival Art and Soul, which explores the relationship between faith and the arts, will examine the religious and theological dimension of comedy. "Divine Comedies: The Redemptive Power of Humor," which runs Thursday, April 7, through Saturday, April 9, will feature sessions with well-known authors and musicians as well as scholarly discussions.

"Anyone interested in the relationship between faith and the arts or the redemptive character of comedy will enjoy the festival," said Dr. Michael Hanby, associate director of Baylor's Institute for Faith and Learning, which hosts Art and Soul. "We will examine such questions as the relationship between humor and grief, tears and laughter, comedy and providence, comedy as the structure of redemption and the relationship between faith, hope, charity and irony."

This year's plenary speakers include a rising author of fiction, an expert on Bob Dylan, an Oprah Book Club author, a musician, a best-selling novelist and a leader in religious publishing.

Art and Soul will open with a talk by Christopher Ricks at 1:30 p.m. Thursday in Barfield Drawing Room. The author of the recently published and widely acclaimed "Dylan's Vision of Sin," Ricks taught at the universities of Bristol and Cambridge, and most recently at Boston University, where he was recently named Professor of Poetry at Oxford. His visiting professorships include posts at Berkeley, Stanford, Smith, Harvard, Wellesley and Brandeis. In addition to his treatise on Dylan, Ricks has published key texts on Milton, Keats, Eliot and Beckett, and has edited numerous anthologies, including the "New Oxford Book of Victorian Verse" and the "Oxford Book of English Verse."

That night at 7:30 in Jones Theater, Jeremy Begbie will lecture on "'Between Tears and Laughter': Sentiment, Sentimentality and the Three Days of Easter." Professionally trained as a pianist, oboist and conductor, Begbie also teaches systematic theology at Cambridge University in England. His latest book, "Theology, Music and Time," is published by Cambridge University Press.

On Friday at 10:30 a.m. in Barfield, Phyllis Tickle will speak on "Theology, the Writing Life, and Me - The Business of Compiling a Contemporary Breviary." Tickle is the author of two dozen books and numerous essays and articles, most of them on religion and spirituality. She is Contributing Editor in Religion for Publishers Weekly and the winner of the 1996 Mays Award, one of the book industry's most prestigious awards for lifetime achievement in writing and publishing.

At 7:30 p.m. in the Paul Powell Chapel at George W. Truett Theological Seminary, author Leif Enger will focus his talk on "The Old Bat Makes Her Case." Enger's "Peace Like a River" was chosen as Book Sense's Book of the Year for 2002 and as a Best Book of 2001 by Time magazine, the Los Angeles Times, The Christian Science Monitor and The Denver Post, and has been chosen by several cities, including Rochester, New York, and Denver, as their One Book city-wide reading project. Formerly a reporter and producer for Minnesota Public Radio, Enger currently writes full time from his 56-acre farm outside Aitkin, Minn.

Lauren Winner, labeled the "Christian Cosmo girl" by World magazine," will lecture "On Writing and Prayer" at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in Barfield. Winner wrote a five-part scholarly series on current work in the field of Jewish-Christian relations as well as the autobiographical "Girl Meets God," or her recent, more devotional text "Mudhouse Sabbath." In addition, she is the co-author of the definitive "Protestantism in America."

Art and Soul will conclude at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the Paul Powell Chapel with a lecture by acclaimed novelist Kaye Gibbons. At 26, Gibbons wrote her first novel, "Ellen Foster," which garnered widespread literary plaudits, including being selected as one of the 200 Best Novels in English since 1950 by Modern Library, as well as the Sue Kaufman Prize for first fiction from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, a Special Citation from the Ernest Hemingway Foundation, and the Louis D. Rubin Writing Award. Now a classic, it is taught in high schools and universities, and was produced by Hallmark Hall of Fame for CBS. "Ellen Foster" and Gibbon's second novel, "A Virtuous Woman," were chosen together as one Oprah Book Club selection in 1998, landing the No. 2 spot on the New York Times best-seller list for many weeks. Her subsequent novels, "A Cure for Dreams," "Charms for the Easy Life," "Sights Unseen" and "On the Occasion of My Last Afternoon," have earned rave reviews and stacks of prestigious awards. With domestic sales of more than 4.2 million copies and numerous world-wide translations, Entertainment Weekly described her as "one of the most lyrical writers working today."

The six plenary sessions are free and open to the public, although the Enger and Gibbons talks will be ticketed events. To obtain a free ticket, call 710-4805 or email For a complete schedule of events, visit .

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