New article in the University of Toronto Quarterly

“Beyond the Temple and the Cave: William James, E.J. Pratt, and Christian-Spiritualist Syncretisms.” University of Toronto Quarterly 86.4 (2017): 1-26.

University of Toronto QuarterlyI am happy to announce that my article on James, Pratt, religious syncretism, and personal religions in Canadian poetry has now been published. If you belong to an institution that subscribes to the University of Toronto Quarterly, you may be able to read the article here; if not, I’ve copied the article’s abstract below as a teaser. 


Although the Canadian poet E.J. Pratt had lifelong attachments to the Methodist church, critics have struggled to reconcile the various aspects of Pratt’s religious vision as they materialize in his writing. Focusing on one largely ignored aspect of that vision, this article examines Pratt’s mystical and spiritualist poetry of the 1920s and 1930s. More precisely, it considers Pratt’s blending of spiritualist and Christian thought in relation to the syncretistic, non-dogmatic, anti-institutional notion of “personal religion” advanced in William James’s The Varieties of Religious Experience, thus illuminating at once both Pratt’s religious commitments and a seldom-discussed point of contact between James’s philosophy and modernist literature. Ultimately, this article argues that, as a result of his exposure to James and to spiritualism in the crucible of Toronto’s liberal Protestant milieu, Pratt – like many other writers of his time – began to move beyond the polarities of personal and institutional religion. (Read the full article)

KEYWORDS: Canadian poetry, spiritualism, religious syncretism, William James, E.J. Pratt