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V. Blue Lemay, PhD

V. Blue Lemay
Assistant Professor
vblue@eastern.edu

Research Interests

I explore the intersection between literature with postmodern theology, phenomenology, and mysticism. I am fascinated by how experiences of God manifest themselves in unconventional ways, ways that elude human consciousness and comprehension. Next year, I will publish on Flannery O’Connor’s short story, entitled “Parker’s Back.” In a letter, dated July of 1964, Flannery O’Connor writes, “I found out about tattooing from a book,” and in her short story, Parker, the main protagonist, covers his body with tattoos, the last of which is the face of Christ on his back. At the tattoo shop, Parker had looked “through a book with images of God” until a “pair of eyes glanced at him swiftly” and silently. “Parker returned to the picture—the haloed head of a flat stern Byzantine Christ with all demanding eyes.” In all of my own work—from George Herbert to William Shakespeare—I am often compelled by the function of the eyes which see both visible and invisible revelations. In order to see more about O’Connor, I traveled to Milledgeville, GA, where O’Connor spent a good deal of her adult life. I saw her bedroom where she wrote, the porch on which she sat, and her small hand-writing in the margins of her short stories. By writing and thinking about O’Connor so intensely, it may have been revealed to me why O’Connor made the following comment: “No matter what form the dragon may take, it is of this mysterious passage past him, or into his jaws, that stories of any depth will always be concerned to tell.”

Creative Interest

I enjoy designing and creating vibrant stained-glass windows, one of which has been a multicolored dragon spiraling out of the void. In my research, which often informs my life, I discovered a connection between aesthetics and theology. In The Incarnational Art of Flannery O’Connor, Christina Bieber Lake writes about O’Connor’s interest in how light is a means to revelation, and thus she identifies the relationship between stained-glass and Parker’s tattoos: “Stained glass is the best example of the medieval aesthetic moment; our ability to see it is dependent on upon the light outside--lumen--that illuminates the object and reveals its color. This idea enters ‘Parker’s Back’ directly. Only by an outside light can Parker feel the arabesque of colors coming together on his body. Jesus’ eyes had seen through him before, had made him feel ‘as transparent as the wing of a fly,’ but now the light makes him beautiful.” Christ illuminates and saturates Parker, whose life is a bit like mine.

Courses Taught

Shakespeare in Popular Culture
Milton: His Texts, Contexts, and Critics
Pop Icons: Christianity, Literature, and Cultural Studies
Global Fiction
Literary Criticism and Theory
Survey of British Literature: Gods, Monsters, and Mystics
Renaissance Studies
College Writing: Religion, Composition, and Popular Culture
Chaucer and Medieval Literature

Education  

PhD, English, Indiana University
MA, English, Boston College
MEd, Education, University of Utah
BA, English, University of New Hampshire

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