Prof. Joshua King

Professor of English

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Welcome to my personal homepage.   I am a Professor of English at Baylor University, specializing in nineteenth-century British literature. I recently served (2014-2021) as the rotating Margarett Root Brown Chair in Victorian Studies at Baylor’s Armstrong Browning Library.  Much of my research and publication has been on nineteenth-century British poetic form, religion, and “print culture.” By “print culture” I mean the social interaction and meaning-making enabled by the production, circulation, and reception of printed media. My recent and current research has increasingly focused on intersections between nineteenth-century British poetry, ecology, and religion.  This constellation of concerns has shaped a number of talks at conferences and symposia, recent and forthcoming articles and book chapters, and my next book project, The Body of Christ, The Body of the Earth: Nineteenth-Century Poetry, Ecology, and Christology.  The robust body of scholarship on nineteenth-century literature and the environment has said next to nothing about the ways nineteenth-century British poets pursued what is now regarded as unconventionally “green” in modern religious leaders such as Pope Francis: they affirmed the solidarity of the Church, Christ’s body, with creation, stressing the interconnection of Christians, Christ, and creatures through sacred spaces, worship, theological reflection, and the medium of poetry.  This book tells this overlooked story through four case studies of poets from different quarters of British Christianity—William Wordsworth (Anglican), Christina Rossetti (Anglo-Catholic), Elizabeth Barrett Browning (Nonconformist), and Gerard Manley Hopkins (Roman Catholic).  It would be inaccurate to understand these poets as simply “greening” an anthropocentric Christian heritage. Rather, their poetic visions of Christ’s body and creation innovatively develop previous and contemporary Christian theology and practice in ways that often anticipate current ecologically sensitive incarnations. Meditation on Christ and the Church motivated their—often conflicted, sometimes contradictory—ecological reflection and ecopoetics.

Also related to my investment in ecology and religion  is a flightless, carbon-reduced, multisite conference that I organized for Sept. 18-21, 2019 on “Ecology and Religion in Nineteenth-Century Studies.”  The conference digitally interlinked events held at five universities in the US and UK and also reached audiences online around the world. As you will see in my “Publications and Professional Activities” page, I have often been involved in directing conferences. I am pursuing my commitment to more sustainable forms of conferencing by joining Prof. Dino Felluga (Purdue), Dr. Chris Adamson (Dakota State U), and an international team of scholars to organize a flightless conference in 2024 on the theme “Event” that will occur at locations across the globe and be jointly sponsored by the North American Victorian Studies Association (NAVSA), the British Association for Victorian Studies (BAVS), the Australasian Victorian Association (AVSA), and the Victorians Institute (VI). Click here to visit the conference webiste.

I have become involved in interdisciplinary environmental education at Baylor, striving to ground such education in action in the community.  With the support of a University Teaching Exploration Grant from the Academy for Teaching and Learning in Spring 2022, I collaborated with faculty across campus and organizations in the surrounding Waco community to create a new minor in Environmental Humanities at Baylor.  This minor offers students a path of study that explores the cultural dimensions of how humans relate to nature. In transformative dialogue with the sciences, the environmental humanities explore the aesthetic, imaginative, religious, and ethical components that not only drive our environmental crisis but also provide us with the tools to bring about healthy, flourishing futures. The minor will include engaged learning opportunities in grassroots environmental education and action specific to Baylor and Waco.

Please see my “Publications and Professional Activities” page for further information about my publications.  You can read more about my book, Imagined Spiritual Communities in Britain’s Age of Print, (Ohio State University Press, 2015) by visiting the webpage linked to the title.  It is in Ohio State’s Literature, Religion, and Postsecular Studies book series.  For the same series, I coedited a collection with Winter Jade Werner titled Constructing Nineteenth-Century Religion: Literary, Historical, and Religious Studies in Dialogue (May 2019).

In 2010, I founded  Baylor’s 19th C. Research Seminar to which I still contribute (please click to visit the website for more information).  Since 2018, I have helped to coordinate the Religion and Spiritualities Caucus for the North American Victorian Studies Association.