Willemien Otten

Dr. Willemien Otten

Address1025 East 58th Street
Swift Hall
Chicago, IL 60637

Professor of the Theology and History of Christianity, University of Chicago Divinity School

M.A., University of Amsterdam,
Ph.D., University of Amsterdam,

Willemien Otten is a scholar of the history of Christianity and Christian thought with a strong focus on the western medieval and the early Christian theological tradition, including the continuity of (Neo) Platonic themes. After her monograph on The Anthropology of Johannes Scottus Eriugena (Leiden 1991), she researched twelfth-century thought. This resulted in her study From Paradise to Paradigm. A Study of Twelfth-Century Humanism (Leiden 2004), which featured, among others, Peter Abelard and ‘Chartrian’ authors like Bernard Silvestris and Alan of Lille.

Underlying her historical-theological work is a structural attempt to see the contribution of (early) medieval theologians as more than the sum total of ancient and patristic influences. Instead, she wants to analyze the cultural outlook which allowed these influences to become woven into the fabric of an encyclopaedic, humanist tradition, by which the treatment of theological questions is embedded in the broader study of the liberal arts. Pursuing this line of thought, she is currently researching connections between Eriugena and Ralph Waldo Emerson in their thinking on nature and creation.

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