Divinity school

School Notes: Yale Divinity School
March/April 2020

Gregory E. Sterling | http://divinity.yale.edu

Dante scholar retires after four decades

Renowned Dante scholar Peter Hawkins ’75PhD is retiring after 43 years in the classroom, most of it as a member of the YDS faculty. Hawkins’s long career at Yale has been marked by triumphs of scholarship, pedagogy, and spiritual mentorship. He founded the school’s Literature and Religion program in 1976, the year he was hired as a 31-year-old associate professor; and in the 1980s he was one of the original faculty members in the Religion and the Arts program of the Institute of Sacred Music. At Yale, and during a hiatus at Boston University, Hawkins helped shape the study of literature and theology into an international academic discipline. His scholarship ranged well beyond Dante, including books, chapters, essays, and reviews on topics from Flannery O’Connor and women in the Hebrew Bible to the AIDS quilt. But Hawkins will be best remembered by colleagues and graduates for the way he brought Dante Alighieri alive in his classes, how he wove the art, theology, mysticism, and splendor of the Commedia into the life of YDS, and how he shaped Dante scholarship through his five books and numerous articles on the Divine Comedy and its author.

Oral history project illuminates experiences of YDS women

At the urging of the YDS Alumni Board and in recognition of the women-at-Yale milestones being celebrated this year, the Divinity School introduced an element of oral history to its recent Convocation and Reunions. YDS offered women (and other) graduates the opportunity to share perspectives and stories from their time at the school. Informally titled “Story Corps” after the popular NPR program, the project used on-camera interviews and an online survey to capture graduates’ and other community members’ reflections and experiences around gender and inclusion. Fifteen alumnae and alumni video-recorded interviews, either individually or in small groups, and nearly 100 more completed the questionnaire. The Divinity School plans to archive the interviews and survey responses in the library and continue to grow the collection at future reunions.

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