8 May–Denys Turner

Please join the Theology Workshop for the second event in a series co-hosted with the Alternative Epistemologies initiative, as we welcome Denys Turner, Horace Tracy Pitkin Professor of Historical Theology and Professor of Religion at Yale University, to explore the necessity and fertility of “failure” in intellectual endeavors.



(+ social hour 6-7pm) 

Swift Lecture Hall, 3rd floor

Denys Turner
“How to Fail”

Denys Turner, Professor of Historical Theology at Yale University, will give a semi-autobiographical account of his personal and intellectual journey from social and political thought as a graduate student at Oxford where he wrote a doctoral dissertation on issues of moral psychology, particularly on the so-called problem of ‘moral weakness’ (Aristotle’s akrasia), and early professorships in philosophy, to becoming a professor, author and expert on medieval theology and mysticism.

He has called his paper “How to Fail” — an important skill, since we all do it! — and will discuss how the personal and the intellectual weave together and how the academic life often displaces the contemplative life, and in so doing, forgets itself. Turner will suggest that it is the ability to fail that gives life to our words and keeps us from producing what Hopkins calls the “competent tedium” of those who don’t know how to fail.

His recent books: Julian of Norwich, Theologian, and Thomas Aquinas: A Portrait. Other works include: The Darkness of God: Negativity in Christian Mysticism and Eros and Allegory: Medieval Exegesis of the Songs of Songs. 


Alternative Epistemologies is a student-led initiative at the University of Chicago Divinity School inspired by the idea we are impoverished as human beings and scholars by our tendency to forget or devalue ways of knowing other than the cerebral. We hope to provide a public space for conversations about “other ways of knowing,” as well as about how discursive knowing and articulating might be enriched, expanded, deepened and illuminated by other ways of knowing.