February 23, 2021

Flannery O’Connor the Hillbilly Thomist: Charting A Catholic Modernist Aesthetics

Event Series: The Christian Literary Imagination

Hand holding rosary

Flannery O’Connor once claimed that her Roman Catholic faith was an essential component of her vocation as a writer. Immersed in the currents of the Catholic philosophy, theology, and literary aesthetics of her day, she maintained: “I write the way I do because (not though) I am a Catholic … However, I am a Catholic peculiarly possessed of the modern consciousness, that thing Jung describes as unhistorical, solitary, and guilty.” In a discussion with Michael Scott, Rev. Mark Bosco, S.J., considered how O’Connor’s grasp of Catholicism, at once both deeply sacramental and robustly intellectual, offered a distinctive way for her to engage twentieth century literary modernism—an engagement that revealed itself in new and startling ways within her stories.

This event was sponsored by the Future of the Humanities Project, the Georgetown Humanities Initiative, the Georgetown Master’s Program in the Engaged and Public Humanities, Campion Hall (University of Oxford) and the Las Casas Institute (Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford). It is part of a year-long series on the "Christian Literary Imagination."

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Rev. Mark Bosco, S.J., Ph.D., is vice president for mission and ministry at Georgetown University where he holds an appointment in the Department of English. He is the author of Graham Greene’s Catholic Imagination (2005) and co-editor of Revelation and Convergence: Flannery O'Connor and the Catholic Intellectual Tradition (2017)He is also co-producer and co-director of Flannery: The Storied Life of the Writer from Georgia, which, in 2019, became the first ever recipient of the Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film.

Professor Michael Scott (moderator) is Senior Dean and Fellow of Blackfriars Hall, college adviser for postgraduate students, and a Member of the Las Casas Institute at the University of Oxford. He also serves as senior adviser to the president at Georgetown University. Scott was on the editorial board which relaunched Critical Survey from Oxford University Press. Scott previously served as the pro vice chancellor at De Montfort University and founding vice chancellor of Wrexham Glyndwr University.