Rosengarten to serve second term as Divinity School DeanBy Jennifer Carnig
Richard Rosengarten, Dean of the Divinity School, has been reappointed to serve a second five-year term as Dean, effective Friday, July 1.
“Under Rick’s leadership the Divinity School has maintained its extraordinary tradition as the leader in the study of religions,” wrote President Randel, announcing the reappointment. Randel continued that he and the Provost “look forward to working with Rick and the faculty to continue to strengthen the scholarly excellence of the school.”
Eight new colleagues have joined the Divinity School faculty in the past five years, including appointees in the Philosophy of Religion; New Testament and Early Christian Literature; the History of Christianity; the History of Judaism; the History of Religions; the Anthropology and Sociology of Religion; and the Study of Islam. The appointments introduce the study of Islam and a fuller role for the social sciences into the school’s curriculum, while at the same time bolstering historic strengths of the school. In addition, Rosengarten has revitalized the school’s roster of associated faculty to strengthen the school’s strong collegial relations with the wider University.
Rosengarten, who received his Ph.D. from the Religion and Literature program in the Divinity School, returned to the University in 1991, when he was appointed Dean of Students. Since that time, he has become a national voice on questions of the academic study of religion. Under his tenure, the Divinity School created the Chicago Forum on Pedagogy and the Study of Religion, a three-year forum of plenary talks, panel discussions and graduate student workshops, which explored the issues that surround teaching the academic subject of religion. A new and important step in educating future religion professors, the Chicago Forum helped boost the Divinity School’s reputation as the premier “teacher of teachers” in the study of religion.
An expert on narrative theory and modern religious thought, Rosengarten has written and lectured on the theological dimensions of works by such authors as Jonathan Swift, Voltaire, Ralph Ellison, Iris Murdoch and William Carlos Williams. His book Henry Fielding and the Narration of Providence: Divine Design and the Incursions of Evil (2000) examined the idea of divine providence as expressed in Fielding’s novels.
Rosengarten is currently at work on three books. His main project is titled The Catholic Sophocles and examines how Flannery O’Connor’s fiction works in expressive relation to the Roman Catholic tradition as analogous to the relationship of the plays of Sophocles to Greek mythology. The goal of the book is twofold: to characterize the influence of Catholicism on O’Connor’s short fiction and to contribute constructively to recent debates about Catholic identity beyond the current liberal vs. conservative divide.
He also is editing a collection on future directions in religion and literature. Future projects include a study of satire and negative theology tentatively titled On Goodness and God: Apophasis, Irony, Satire.
Rosengarten earned his B.A. in English language and literature from Kenyon College, and his M.A. in the same subject from Chicago’s Division of the Humanities. Before joining the University faculty, Rosengarten taught as an assistant professor at Saint Xavier College.