I loved picture books as a kid, and I still do. There is something wonderful about how they use images to create meaning. Some picture books are especially good at conveying hard-to-express ideas. For instance, I am convinced that there is no better way to express the meaning of “drifting off to sleep” than the series of images that make up Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon. My love of picture books is somewhat related to my work as a scholar and philosopher of religion. What role does picture-thinking play in forming religious ideas, e.g., ideas of redemption, eternality, the soul? How do embodied practices of viewing and visualization become cognitive practices, ways of understanding? I bring these questions to the religious intellectual traditions I study, in order to explore the power of visual imagination in religious life and thought. This approach allows me to put philosophy and theology in conversation with art history and visual studies.
I completed my PhD at the University and Virginia and have since been teaching religion at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. I am excited to be working with UVA students again. My favorite text to teach is David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, because it is written as a dialogue between friends. My favorite picture to look at is Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights, because, delightfully, no one can say what it means.