Prof. William Franke

Department of French and Italian
Vanderbilt University, USA



1988-1991 Ph.D., Stanford University, Comparative Literature

1986-1988 M.A., University of California at Berkeley, Comparative Literature

1978-1980 M.A., Oxford University, Philosophy and Theology

1974-1978 B.A., Williams College, Philosophy (summa cum laude)

Publications (Selected)

  1. A Philosophy of the Unsayable Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press (forthcoming).
  2. Dante and the Sense of Transgression: ‘The Trespass of the Sign’London and New York: Continuum [Bloomsbury Academic], 2012 New Directions in Religion and Literature Series (200 + xv pages).
  3. Poetry and Apocalypse: Theological Disclosures of Poetic LanguageStanford: Stanford University Press: 2009  (211 + xiv pages).
  4. Translated into German by Ursula Liebing and Michael Sonntag as: Dichtung und Apokalypse: Theologische Erschliessungen der dichterischen SpracheAus dem Amerikanischen von Ursula Liebing und Michael Sonntag Salzburger Theologische Studien Band 39 (interkulturell 6) Innsbruck: Tyrolia Verlag, 2011  (216 pages).
  5. On What Cannot Be Said: Apophatic Discourses in Philosophy, Religion, Literature, and the ArtsNotre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 2007. Edited with Theoretical and Critical Essays by William Franke Vol. I: Classic Formulations (401 + xi pages).
  6. On What Cannot Be Said: Apophatic Discourses in Philosophy, Religion, Literature, and the ArtsNotre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 2007. Edited with Theoretical and Critical Essays by William Franke Vol. II: Modern and Contemporary Transformations (480 + viii pages).
  7. Dante’s Interpretive Journey Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996  (242 + xi pages) Religion and Postmodernism Series.
  8. “The Place of the Proper Name in the Topographies of the Paradiso” Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies 87/4 (2012).
  9. “The Paramount Importance of What Cannot Be Said in Public Theological Discourse” Contextuality and Intercontextuality in Public Theology, eds. Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, Florian Höhne, Tobias Reitmeier (Berlin: LIT-Verlag, 2013), series on “Theology in the Public Square” forthcoming.
  10. “Total Forgetting as the Moment of Truth at the Climax of Dante’s Divine Comedy and the Christian Epic Tradition,” in Record, Relate, Remember: Narrative Constructions of Memory and Generation in Antiquity and the Middle Ages, eds. Benjamin Pohl, Maurice Sprague and Linda Hörl (Bamberg: University of Bamberg Press, 2012) forthcoming.
  11. “Le commencement et la fin de la philosophie dans la mystique apophatique: De Platon au postmodernisme” In Métaphysique et mystique: Stanislas Breton sur les traces des mystiques, ed. Jean Greisch (CERISY), forthcoming.
  12. “Paradoxical Prophecy: Dante’s Strategy of Self-Subversion in the Inferno” Italica 90: 2 (2013), forthcoming.
  13. “Dante’s Hermeneutic Complicity in Violence and Fraud in Inferno IX-XVII” University of Toronto Quarterly 82/1 (Winter 2013).
  14. “From the Bible as Literature to Literature as Theology: A Theological Reading of Genesis as a Humanities Text” Interdisciplinary Humanities (2012).
  15. “Apophasis as the Common Root of Radically Secular and Radically Orthodox Theology” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion (2012): 1-20.
  16. “Negative Theology,” Encyclopedia of Sciences and Religions eds. Anne Runehov, Lluis Oviedo (Dordrecht: Springer, 2012) Co-authored with Chance Woods.
  17. “The Origin of Philosophy in Theological Critique of Idolatry and its Consummation in Negative Theological Critique of Conceptual Idolatry” Hermeneutica, Nuova serie (2012): 315-32.
  18. “Un díptico apofatíco: Juan de la Cruz y Samuel Beckett” [“An Apophatic Dyptich: John of the Cross and Samuel Beckett” ] Despalabro. Ensayos de Humanidades 6 (2012): 179-88.
  19. “Apophatic Paths: Modern and Contemporary Poetics and Aesthetics of Nothing” Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities 17/3 (2012): 7-18.
  20. “Dante’s Hermeneutic Rite of Passage: Inferno IX” Classical and Medieval Literary Criticism on Dante (Gale/Cengage Learning, 2012) Reprinted from Dante’s Interpretive Journey, pp. 82-118.
  21. “Dante’s Deconstruction and Reconstruction of Prophetic Voice and Vision in the Malebolge (Inferno XVIII-XXV) Philosophy and Literature 36/1 (2012): 111-121.
  22. “Altizer’s Apocalyptic Theology and the Poetic Apocalypse of Finnegans Wake: The Birth of Christian Epic out of the Death of God”.
  23. In Tools of the Sacred, Techniques of the Secular: Awakening, Epiphany, Apocalypse and Doubt in Contemporary English-Language Verse, ed. Franca Bellarsi, Comparative Poetics Series/P.I.E. (Netherlands: Peter Lang, 2012) forthcoming.
  24. “Dante’s New Life and the New Testament: An Essay on the Hermeneutics of Revelation” The Italianist 31 (2011): 335-66.
  25. “Gospel as Personal Knowing: Theological Reflections on not Just a Literary Genre” Theology Today 68/4 (2011): 413-23.
  26. “On Doing the Truth in Time: The Aeneid’s Invention of Poetic Prophecy” Arion: A Journal of Humanities and the Classics 19/1 (2011): 111-21.
  27. “Prophecy as a Genre of Revelation: Synergisms of Inspiration and Imagination in the Book of Isaiah” Theology 114/5 (2011): 340-52.
  28. “Involved Knowing: On the Poetic Epistemology of the Humanities” The European Legacy: Towards New Paradigms 16/4 (2011): 447-68.
  29. “Homer’s Musings and the Divine Muse: Epic Song as Invention and as Revelation” Religion and Literature 43/1 (2011): 1-28.
  30. “The Canon Question and the Value of Theory: Towards a New (Non-)Concept of Universality” The Canonical Debate Today. Crossing Disciplinary and Cultural Boundaries, eds. Liviu Papadima, David Damrosch, and Theo D’haen (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2011), pp. 55-71.
  31. “The Missing All: Emily Dickinson’s Apophatic Poetics,” Poetry for Students, vol. 35 (Kennedale, TX: Gale Group, 2010)[Reprinted from Christianity and Literature 58/1 (2008): 61-80].
  32. “Sulla verità poetica che è superiore alla Storia: Porfirio e la critica filosofica della letteratura,” Italian translation of “On the Poetic Truth that is Higher than History . . .” (#61) with critical introduction (“Per una Critica Speculativa”) by Laura Lucia Rossi Enthymema: Rivista di teoria, critica e filosofia della letteratura 1 (2010): 1-17.
  33. “On the Poetic Truth that is Higher than History: Porphyry and the Philosophical Interpretation of Literature”International Philosophical Quarterly 50/4 (2010): 415-430 [Reprinted in Acts of ISSEI (International Society for the Study of European Ideas)2010 International Conference on “Thought in Science and Fiction”].
  34. “The Death and Damnation of Poetry in Inferno XXXI-XXXIV: Ugolino and Narrative as an Instrument of Revenge” Romance Studies 28/1 (2010): 27-35.
  35. “Dante, Alighieri,” “Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite,” and “Petrarch, Francesco.” Cambridge Dictionary of Christianity, ed. Daniel Patte(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 2010).
  36. “Dante’s Inferno as Poetic Revelation of Prophetic Truth,” Philosophy and Literature 33/2 (2009): 252-66.
  37. “Existentialism: An Atheistic or a Christian Philosophy?” In Phenomenology and Existentialism in the Twentieth Century, Chapter 22 Analecta Husserliana 103 (2009): 371-94.
  38. “Equivocations of ‘Metaphysics’: A Debate with Christian Moevs’s The Metaphysics of Dante’s Comedy” Philosophy and Theology 20/1-2 (2009): 29-52.
  39. “Beyond the Limits of Reason Alone: A Critical Approach to the Religious Inspiration of Literature” Position Statement in forum of invited contributions to Special Issue on the discipline: Religion and Literature 41/2 (2009): 69-78.
  40. “James Joyce and the Bible” The Blackwell Companion to the Bible in English Literature, chapter 46 Eds. Christopher Rowland, Christine Joynes, Rebecca Lemon, Emma Masson, Jonathan Roberts (Oxford: Blackwell, 2009), pp. 642-53.
  41. “Edmond Jabès, or the Endless Self-Emptying of Language in the Name of God” Literature and Theology 22/1 (2008): 1-17.
  42. “The Missing All’: Emily Dickinson’s Apophatic Poetics” Christianity and Literature 58/1 (2008): 61-80.
  43. “The Coincidence of Reason and Revelation in Communicative Openness: A Critical Negative Theology of Dialogue” Journal of Religion 88/3 (2008): 365-92.
  44. “Le Nom de Dieu comme vanité du langage au fond de tout mot selon Edmond Jabès,” ["The Name of God as the Vanity of Language in the Heart of Every Word"], trans. by Martine Prieto and Geoffrey Obin, Edmond Jabès : L'éclosion des énigmes, eds. Daniel Lançon et Catherine Mayaux (Vincennes: Presses Universitaires de Vincennes, 2007), pp. 249-60 (Paris: Littérature Hors Frontières, 2008).
  45. “Eine kritische Negative Theologie des Dialogs: Die Koinzidenz von Vernunft und Offenbarung in kommunikativer Offenheit“ [“A Critical Negative Theology of Dialogue: The Coincidence of Reason and Revelation in Communicative Openness”], translated by Michael Sonntag Salzburger theologishe Zeitschrift 11 (2007): 217-49.
  46. “The Ethical Vision of Dante’s Paradiso in Light of Levinas” Comparative Literature 59/3 (2007): 209-27 “The Ethical Posture of Anti-Colonial Discourse in Said and in Gandhi” Journal of Contemporary Thought 25 (Summer, 2007): 5-24.
  47. “Poetic Language, Apocalypse, and the Premises for Dialogue Between a Secular West and Radical Islam” Reconstructing Realities: Occident-Orient Engagements eds. Ganakumaran Subramaniam, Shanthini Pillai and Hafriza Burhanudeen (Kuala Lumpur: Pearson Longman, 2007), pp. 41-52.
  48. “The Deaths of God in Hegel and Nietzsche and the Crisis of Values in Secular Modernity and Post-Secular Postmodernity” Religion and the Arts 11/2 (2007): 214-41.

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