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Ordained as an Episcopal priest, Scott writes with the intensity and formalism

of the Christian creed. Scott's essays are noted for their diversity and quality.



Books by Nathan A. Scott, Jr.

The New Orpheus: Essays Toward a Christian Poetic  / The Legacy of  Reinhold Niebuhr  /  Ernest-Hemingway: A Critical Essay

 The Broken Center: Studies in the Theological Horizon of Modern Literature Nathaniel West: A Critical Essay

The Modern Vision of Death / The Poetry of Civic Virtue: Eliot, Malraux, Auden  / Adversity and Grace-Studies in Recent American Literature

Craters of the Spirit: Studies in the Modern Novel  / Modern Literature and the Religious Frontier

Morphologies of Faith : Essays in Religion and Culture in Honor of Nathan A. Scott, Jr. 

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Judgment Marked by a Cellar

The American Negro Writer and the Dialectic of Despair

Nathan A. Scott, Jr. (1925 - 2006)


Nathan A. Scott, Jr.(1925-) was Professor of Theology and Literature in the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. He also taught at the University of Virginia. He  has been a  major critic of modern literature who have written extensively on the relationship between the literary and religious imagination. In the United States in the field of religion and literature, Scott was one of the first scholars systematically to draw together the study of theology and literature, consistently maintaining a close connection with questions of morality and civic virtue.

Born in Cleveland, Scott attended the University of Michigan and the union theological Seminary in new York. He received hi Ph.D. from Columbia University at the age of 24. he later became chairman of the theology and Literature Field of the Divinity School at the University of Chicago University.

Ordained as an Episcopal priest, Scott writes with the intensity and formalism of the Christian creed. Scott's essays are noted for their diversity and quality. His works have appeared frequently in journals such as Review of Metaphysics and Christian Century, as well as Saturday Review and The Kenyon Review. His essays have been published in many books edited by other writers: H.J. Mooney, Jr. and T.F. Staley (editors) The Shapeless God: Essays on Modern Fiction (1968), and others.

His first book, Rehearsals of Discomposure: Alienation and Reconciliation in Modern Literature, was published in 1952.

Other books written and edited by Scott include Modern Literature and the Religious Frontier(1958), Albert Camus, The New Orpheus: Essays Toward a Christian Poetic, Samuel Beckett (1965), Craters of the Spirit: Studies in the Modern Novel, The Broken Center: Studies in the Theological Horizon of Modern Literature (1966), Ernest-Hemingway: A Critical Essay  (1966), Craters of the Spirit: Studies in the Modern Novel (1968), Adversity and Grace-Studies in Recent American Literature (1968), Unquiet Vision: Mirrors of Man in Existentialism (1978), The Wild Prayer of Longing (1971) The Poetry of Civic Virtue: Eliot, Malraux, Auden (1976), Nathaniel West: A Critical Essay (1971), The Modern Vision of Death (1967), The Legacy of  Reinhold Niebuhr (1975).

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The boundary walker: Nathan A. Scott, Jr.—Frederick Quinn—Scott emerged as a leading Christian literary voice at a time when modern cultural criticism was turning toward Marxism, deconstructionism, new historicism, postcolonial, reader-response and a variety of other specialized schools of criticism. Drawing on the work of Paul Tillich, Scott staked bold claims – that religion gave culture its substance and that the great themes of alienation and the quest for unity central to writers as varied as Kafka, Camus, and Beckett were at heart religious issues. In a memorial sermon titled “The Boundary Walker” Samuel T. Lloyd III, a former graduate student of Scott’s at the University of Virginia, and now dean of Washington National Cathedral, recalled, “Nathan sought to articulate the Christian faith, within the language and thought forms of our time so that we can understand it in fresh ways. He believed that the faith conversation had to flow both ways. Secular thinkers had much to gain from recognizing the spiritual dimension at work in even the most non-religious works, and the church too had a great deal to gain from having its convictions tested and stretched in conversation with the spiritual quest of its time.” Lloyd, who Scott hoped would follow him in an academic-clerical career, described his mentor as a compelling preacher and lecturer. “He lived and wrote on the boundary between religion and literature, between the sacred and the secular, between the ancient and the modern, between theology and culture. But there were other boundaries he walked as well…As a black man from the North living out his climactic years in the heart of the Confederacy, he wrote eloquently about this crucial boundary divide in our culture.”

Despite making a substantial mark in his time, Scott is infrequently referred to now. Cultural criticism moved like a tornado in other directions during his professional lifetime. Scott called some of its trends “hermeneutical terrorism,” in a decade before such terminology had entered common usage. He was not a polemicist; his genius was in probing the depths of about forty key world authors over half a century, and relating them and their texts to biblical and contemporary issues. His collected sermons remain to be gathered and Scott awaits a biographer. His comments about himself were often guarded. But in a 1993 interview he reflected on the key influence of his father, who had been taught to read and write by the local postmaster in Laneville, Alabama, and who, after struggling to obtain an education, eventually became a lawyer in Detroit. “He had been taught Greek and Latin classics. By the time I was twelve years of age, he had taken me through the Latin text of Caesar’s Commentary on the Gallic Wars. I was the despair of my Latin teachers in junior and senior high school; they had noting to offer me. His daily devotional reading of the New Testament involved the koiné Greek text. He had an enormous passion for the Book. And when I was a small boy, he had already set me to reading the Fireside Poets (Greenleaf Whittier, Wadsworth Longfellow, and so on), as well as Browning and Tennyson. He had required me to commit to memory large blocks of this poetry by the time I was ten or eleven years of age. He contributed more to my formation than anybody else has ever done!”—EpiscopalCafe

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Life on Mars

By Tracy K. Smith

Tracy K. Smith, author of Life on Mars has been selected as the winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. In its review of the book, Publishers Weekly noted the collection's "lyric brilliance" and "political impulses [that] never falter." A New York Times review stated, "Smith is quick to suggest that the important thing is not to discover whether or not we're alone in the universe; it's to accept—or at least endure—the universe's mystery. . . . Religion, science, art: we turn to them for answers, but the questions persist, especially in times of grief. Smith's pairing of the philosophically minded poems in the book’s first section with the long elegy for her father in the second is brilliant." Life on Mars follows Smith's 2007 collection, Duende, which won the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, the only award for poetry in the United States given to support a poet's second book, and the first Essence Literary Award for poetry, which recognizes the literary achievements of African Americans. The Body’s Question (2003) was her first published collection. Smith said Life on Mars, published by small Minnesota press Graywolf, was inspired in part by her father, who was an engineer on the Hubble space telescope and died in 2008.

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Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—Lisa Adkins, University of London

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The Warmth of Other Suns

The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

By Isabel Wilkerson

Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, a sharecropper's wife, left Mississippi for Milwaukee in 1937, after her cousin was falsely accused of stealing a white man's turkeys and was almost beaten to death. In 1945, George Swanson Starling, a citrus picker, fled Florida for Harlem after learning of the grove owners' plans to give him a "necktie party" (a lynching). Robert Joseph Pershing Foster made his trek from Louisiana to California in 1953, embittered by "the absurdity that he was doing surgery for the United States Army and couldn't operate in his own home town." Anchored to these three stories is Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Wilkerson's magnificent, extensively researched study of the "great migration," the exodus of six million black Southerners out of the terror of Jim Crow to an "uncertain existence" in the North and Midwest. Wilkerson deftly incorporates sociological and historical studies into the novelistic narratives of Gladney, Starling, and Pershing settling in new lands, building anew, and often finding that they have not left racism behind. The drama, poignancy, and romance of a classic immigrant saga pervade this book, hold the reader in its grasp, and resonate long after the reading is done.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 21 April 2012




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