Rita Dirks Heath

Dr. Rita Dirks Heath

Address150 Ambrose Circle S.W.
Calgary, AB

Associate Professor of English Literature, Ambrose Seminary

B.A., ,
M.A., ,
Ph.D., ,

I believe in a close relationship between art and faith, and especially literature and faith: both require insight, imagination, and devotion. For me, literature is an external expression or symbol of the strivings of the soul. My graduate work and research culminated in a dissertation entitled The Symbolist Novel as Secular Scripture in which the three Symbolist novels that I examined (Huysmans’s A Rebours/Against the Grain, Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, and Bely’s Petersburg) portray the novel as shifting from an aesthetics of spirituality to a spirituality of aesthetics. Because the Symbolist novel is written against the grain of popular culture, it has much in common with faith literature; the Symbolists’s transcendental view of art, their hermeticism, their anti-materialism and anti-utilitarianism, martyrdom, and commitment to the sacredness of art (combined with personal conversions and visions of Christ) intrigue my scholarly imagination.

Presently, the Symbolist/Decadent age of Modernism remains my primary area of research. My most recent paper delivered at the 2006 ACCUTE Conference was entitled “Wilde’s Picture of Christ: A New Decadent Religion” (Christianity and Literature Study Group).

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