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Faithful Passages to China

February 7, 2012

This week, we travel from Auburn toward China and our final destination in Nanjing. On the way, we’ll be making stops in Tokyo, Shanghai, and Xiamen, stopping for five days in the latter city to participate in orientation for this year’s China Fulbright Scholars. From Xiamen, we will book the final leg of our passage to Nanjing Normal University in the company of a university representative who is charged with helping us get settled. For those of you who are trying to stay in touch with us by e-mail and Skype, this is the place for reminding you that our China time zone is 12 hours ahead of USA Eastern Times.

While in Xiamen for Fulbright orientation, I’ll be getting some assistance with my plan to visit other cities and universities in China during my semester in residence. My plan is to travel as much as my teaching schedule permits, and I hope that I’ll be able to follow through on plans to make some academic presentations for various university audiences interested in my research and teaching areas of American literature and religion. In some of these settings, I’ll likely give some general presentations focused on the state of contemporary American literary studies, talking about recent developments and trends for nineteenth-century research especially.

And thanks to recent good news from my publisher, I hope to have the opportunity to discuss my most recent book, scheduled for publication later this year. This long-term project, Faithful Passages: American Catholicism in Literary Culture, 1844-1931 (University of Wisconsin Press, 2012, forthcoming), deals with literary evangelism by American Catholic writers of the nineteenth century and the ways that some non-Catholic modernist writers responded to the Catholic literary tradition in unexpected ways.

All of the subjects of my study were caught up in the American industrial revolution and the burgeoning industrial print culture that it helped create. They were writers who reacted to religious ideas during a time of momentous cultural change in the United States, and thus might be of some interest to my Chinese counterparts, who as we know find themselves amid extraordinary social changes of their own.

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