Rowan Williams to speak on religious themes in Shakespeare as part of Notre Dame Forum

Author: Amanda Skofstad

Rowan Williams

University of Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., has announced that Rowan Williams, renowned theologian and former Archbishop of Canterbury, will deliver a keynote lecture as part of the 2018-19 Notre Dame Forum.

This year’s Notre Dame Forum, “The Catholic Artistic Heritage: Bringing Forth Treasures New and Old,” invites the University community to engage in a yearlong series of events. Catholicism, with its sacramental vision, has a rich heritage of inspiring and sponsoring artistic creativity of various forms as a means of expressing, exploring and deepening faith. This tradition continues today as artists of various Christian traditions, other faiths and even those who are not believers find inspiration in and develop themes inspired by this Catholic and Christian tradition of art — themes such as love, sin, sacrifice, atonement and redemption. Especially important in this regard is the influence of the Catholic social tradition on artists who explore poverty and injustice, and commit their thought and creativity to support for the suffering and oppressed.


Co-sponsored by “Religion & Literature,” a Notre Dame journal housed in the Department of English, Williams will present a talk titled, “Relieved by Prayer: Power, Shame and Redemption in Shakespeare’s Drama,” in the Dahnke Ballroom at 5 p.m. Nov. 26 (Monday). A reception will follow the lecture.

“Rowan Williams is a renowned scholar, poet and Church leader,” said Father Jenkins. “We are fortunate to have him speak on the intersection of religious faith and literature.

Williams shepherded the Church of England as Archbishop of Canterbury from 2002 to 2012. He is a leading figure in the study of religion and literature and currently serves as Master of Magdalene College at the University of Cambridge. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1990 and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2003.

Educated in theology at both Cambridge and Oxford, Williams is the author of dozens of books and articles on Christian theology, belief, poetry and icons. His 2005 book, “Grace and Necessity: Reflections on Art and Love,” draws on the works of Catholic thinkers and artists like Jacques Maritain, Flannery O’Connor and David Jones to explore how human beings open themselves to transcendence. Williams is a noted poet and translator of poetry, and, in addition to Welsh, speaks or reads nine other languages.

Since its establishment in 2005, the Notre Dame Forum has featured major talks by leading authorities on issues of importance to the University, the nation and the larger world, including the challenges and opportunities of globalization, the role of presidential debates, immigration, sustainability and the place of faith in a pluralistic society.

 To learn more about this year’s Notre Dame Forum events, please visit

All Notre Dame Forum events are free and open to the public.

Contact: Amanda Skofstad, assistant director of media relations, 574-631-4313,