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Master of Arts: Theopoetics and Writing

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Searching for Mystery, Metaphor, and Meaning with the Master of Arts: Theopoetics and Writing

Bethany Theological Seminary provides a unique educational experience with its new graduate degree in theopoetics and writing (MATW). The first of its kind at a seminary, this degree enables students to focus study in ways that celebrate mystery, metaphor, and meaning in texts and contexts for expansive reflection, critical engagement, and various forms of writing. The MATW joins theology, poetry, narrative, spirituality, and public conversations together in the pursuit of inquiry and understanding that result in creative production across multiple genres.

Drawing on the strengths of Bethany’s theopoetics curriculum and the Earlham School of Religion‘s Ministry of Writing program, the MATW degree was developed through a collaboration by the schools. The degree is offered independently by both Bethany and ESR and requires 36 credits (twelve 3-credit-hour courses). At Bethany it may be done as a residential student or through our distance education program, Connections, and there is no residency requirement.

The MATW degree is led by the following faculty:

Scott Holland
Slabaugh Professor of Theology and Culture and Director of Peace Studies and Cross-Cultural Studies
Bethany Theological Seminary

Ben Brazil
Assistant Professor and Director of the Ministry of Writing Program
Earlham School of Religion

The master of arts: theopoetics and writing program is designed to enhance students’ ability to write and think at the intersection of creativity, faith, and meaning. Along with academic study, it trains students in various forms of written communication and other media that bring spirituality into public conversation with the whole of life.

Graduates from the MATW program will be prepared to:

  1. read, write, and engage in linguistic creativity as formative spiritual practices, both for communities and for individual lives, including their own;
  2. apply intellectual disciplines, skills, and creative processes that empower them to practice their writing publicly in ways appropriate to specific genres, audiences, and purposes;
  3. demonstrate theopoetic understanding of method, meaning and value, with attention to their function in the public sphere and connections to the cultural context;
  4. explore and articulate diverse, lived possibilities of theopoetics, such as literary craft, popular writing, justice advocacy, peacemaking, and community building.

Summative Exercise (one courses, 3 hours)

  • MATW thesis, portfolio, or project completion course, taken in the student’s final semester

Core Theopoetics and Writing Courses (seven courses, 21 hours)

  • Theopoetics
  • Theopoetics, Mythopoetics, Aesthetics
  • Two 200-level writing courses from list below
  • Three other elective courses from list below

Elective Courses (four courses, 12 hours)

  • Elective courses may come from the list below (other MATW courses) or may be any course offered by either Bethany or ESR.
  • Applied Storytelling
  • Art, Justice, and Peace
  • Christian Ethics
  • Christian Themes in the Gallery, Contemporary Images in the Church
  • Contemporary Spiritual Writing
  • Creative Non-Fiction
  • Cuba, travel course
  • Ecological Theology and Christian Responsibility/Eco-theology
  • In Their Own Words: Readings in Christian History
  • Interfaith Dialogue
  • Liberation Theologies
  • Narrative Theology
  • Peace of the City and Quest for Public Theology
  • Preaching, Poetry, and Prophetic Imagination
  • Preaching, Theopoetics, and Society
  • Poetics of Jesus
  • Poetry Writing Workshop
  • Science Fiction and Theology
  • Spirituality and Ecology: The Sabbath Poetry of Wendell Berry
  • Spirituality courses, ESR
  • Theatre, Theology, and Public Performance
  • Theological and Artistic Understandings of Jesus
  • Theology of Place and the Built Environment
  • Visual Communication and Faith
  • Writing Mental Illness/Writing as Mindfulness
  • Writing Public Theology
  • Writing the Story

Spring 2023
January Intensive
Ecological Theology and Christian Responsibility
Violence in Story and Theory

Regular Semester
Liberation Theologies
Narrative Theology
Preaching, Poetry, and Prophetic Imagination
Theopoetics, Mythopoetics, and Aesthetics
Afrofuturism and Theology
Composing a Life: Embodied Poetry
Theology of the Holy Spirit

May Intensive
Christian Themes in the Gallery, Contemporary Images in the Church

Fall 2023
August Intensive
Creative Non-Fiction

Regular Semester
Preaching,Theopoetics, and Society
Theopoetics
Poetry Writing Workshop
Writing the Story

Spring 2024
January Intensive
Interfaith Dialog

Regular Semester
Applied Storytelling
Writing Public Theology
Eco-Theology
Theopoetics, Mythopoetics, and Aesthetics
Theological and Artistic Understandings of Jesus

May Intensive
Art,Justice,and Peace

Joelle Hathaway
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Dawn Ottoni-Wilhelm
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Steve Schweitzer
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Dan Ulrich
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Although Bethany and ESR represent two distinct traditions—Church of the Brethren and Quaker—they share a common Peace Church tradition. While they have been partner schools since 1994, the theopoetics and writing degree represents a new level of collaboration. If you are interested in learning more about ESR, please visit their website here.

For more information about the master of arts: theopoetics and writing at Bethany, refer to Bethany’s Academic Catalog.

An Exceptional Experience

Carl McRoy, of Maryland, originally learned about Bethany from a Google search about graduate programs related to social justice. After conversations with Bethany faculty and staff, he chose to enroll in the Master of Arts in Theopoetics and Writing — a natural choice for a published author who serves as director of literature services for … Continue reading “An Exceptional Experience”

Seeking Stories

Alina Sayre Skujins, a California native now living in South Carolina, is a teacher and writer who was drawn to the “convergence of art and faith,” but she didn’t quite know at first how to weave her various strands together.  “I was an English major as an undergrad, and I wasn’t opposed to the idea … Continue reading “Seeking Stories”

Dr. Tamisha Tyler Named Bethany’s First Louisville Institute Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Tamisha Tyler will join the faculty of Bethany Theological Seminary as a Louisville Institute Postdoctoral Fellow for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 academic years. Dr. Tyler earned a PhD in Theology and Culture from Fuller Seminary this year. She earned an MDiv from Fuller in 2014 and a BA in Black Studies from California State … Continue reading “Dr. Tamisha Tyler Named Bethany’s First Louisville Institute Postdoctoral Fellow”