Faculty of Theology Awarded SHHRC Funding for Two Projects

Faculty of Theology Awarded SHHRC Funding for Two Projects


(Post-doctoral fellow Dr. Tristan Sharp examines a digital version of a manuscript for signs it was written by mediaeval theologian Peter Lombard. )

By Catherine Mulroney

The Faculty of Theology is celebrating the news that two projects led by Faculty professors have been awarded more than $300,000 in prestigious SSHRC grants.

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) is a federal agency with a mandate to fund and promote post-secondary research and training in the humanities and social sciences that will enhance understanding of the world around us.

Drs. Michael Attridge and Darren Dias, O.P., have received $118,000 in SSHRC funding for a four-year project entitled One Country, Two Catholicisms: Divergent Evolutions of the Church in Quebec and Ontario, 1965-1985. The professors, who will work on the project with noted theologian Dr. Gilles Routhier of Université Laval in Quebec, will compare how two Quebec dioceses – St. Jean Longueuil and Quebec – and two Ontario dioceses – London and Toronto — received the Second Vatican Council’s teachings in the diverse milieus of Ontario and Quebec in the 1960s, 70s and 80s..

Gathering information via analysis of documents ranging from diocesan newsletters to scholarly books and articles, the team is looking “not for nostalgia but to assess what recent historical events can tell us about today – for example, how bishops stood together then in relation to today,” says Dr. Attridge.

He and Dr. Dias expect the team’s research to shed light on a number of topics in the social and political realms of broad interest to Canadians  – everything from multiculturalism and immigration patterns to the Quiet Revolution and questions surrounding why Catholic schools were defunded in Quebec but not in Ontario. The two note that while Vatican II concluded more than five decades ago, there is still not a great deal written on the historical and theological implications of the Council for life in Canada.

Their project offers multiple benefits for students, including a student research position as well as a proposal for joint St. Michael’s-Laval courses, and a colloquium with participants from both universities.

But it’s not just the recent past that has received grant support. Theology Dean Dr. James Ginther heads a team that has been awarded $207,000 for a project entitled Editing the Lost Works of Peter Lombard, which will critically edit a set of lectures on the Bible that, the team argues, were authored by mediaeval theologian Peter Lombard.

The project will examine the development of biblical hermeneutics in the 12th century, as well as how theologians like Lombard used new approaches in logic and philosophy to explore the teaching of the sacred page.

The analysis of the lectures on the Pentateuch will add significantly to the body of research on one of the Middle Ages’ most important theologians. The project will examine the development of biblical hermeneutics in the 12th century, as well as how theologians like Lombard used new approaches in logic and philosophy to explore the teaching of the sacred page.

The three-year project will also provide vital training in some key areas of importance to mediaevalists, notes Dr. Ginther. Research will expose a post-doctoral fellow and a graduate student to paleography, the study of ancient handwriting, as well as to codicology, the study of ancient manuscripts. These skills, which Dr. Ginther notes “are waning amongst medievalists,” can offer critical clues to understanding the contents of a document.

Equally important, the Dean notes, is that “as collaborative research becomes more a norm in humanities research in Canada, we will also mentor … young scholars in how one effectively collaborates in a research environment.”

Dr. Ginther’s team includes six scholars, one of whom is Dr. Alexander Andrée of St. Michael’s College and the University of Toronto’s Centre for Medieval Studies, and also Dr. Joseph Goering, emeritus professor of Medieval History, University of Toronto.

Past SHHRC recipients from St. Mike’s have included Dr. David Wilson for his work on Father of Confederation Thomas D’Arcy McGee, and Dr. Paul J. Fedwick for his study on Basil of Caesarea.

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