John Arblaster

Tenure track lecturer

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About John Arblaster

John Arblaster (Bonheiden, 1985) is part-time lecturer in the history of spirituality in the Low Countries at the Ruusbroec Institute. He also works part-time as a research associate of the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, KU Leuven.

In December 2016, he obtained a double doctorate in literature (University of Antwerp) and theology (KU Leuven). His doctoral research concerned the literary articulations of and theological developments in the doctrine of deification in a number of mystical authors from the medieval Low Countries, with a particular focus on the works of William of Saint-Thierry, the anonymous poet known as Pseudo-Hadewijch, Beatrice of Nazareth, Marguerite Porete, and John of Ruusbroec.

He is currently conducting the first literary and theological analysis of the complete oeuvre of Jan van Leeuwen (c. 1300-1378), a layperson of the lowest social class who was the cook at the Priory of Groenendaal and who wrote twenty-two mystical prose treatises in Middle Dutch.

His research methodology is located at the intersection of literary studies and theology, with a primary emphasis on metaphor studies, intertextuality, and interlingual networks of ‘critical' reception, as well as content-related themes such as mystical anthropology and pneumatology. While he mainly conducts research into mystics from the Low Countries, he also has a particular interest in other medieval mystical and devotional authors (e.g. John of Fécamp, Hildegard of Bingen, Elizabeth of Schönau, Hugh and Richard of Saint-Victor, Jacopone da Todi, Johannes Tauler, Walter Hilton and Julian of Norwich), as well as in the 'mystical culture' of the Devotio Moderna (especially Thomas a Kempis and Erasmus).

With Louise Nelstrop (Oxford University/York St. John) and Simon Podmore (Liverpool Hope University) he coordinates the Mystical Theology Network, an extensive international network of researchers engaged with mystical literature from a wide variety of perspectives. Don't hesitate to contact him with any questions about the network or its annual conferences.

Key publications:

* “The Image and Likeness of God,” in: Eddie Howells and Mark McIntosh (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Mystical Theology (OUP, forthcoming).

* “‘Flowing from the Wild Sea and Back to the Sea’: Water Metaphors and Mystical Union in the Late Medieval Low Countries’, The Journal of Religion 98 (2018), 169-191.

* John Arblaster & Paul Verdeyen, “The Reciprocity of Spiritual Love in William of Saint-Thierry and Hadewijch,” International Journal of Philosophy and Theology 78 (2017), 39-54.

* John Arblaster & Rob Faesen (eds.) Mystical Anthropology: Authors from the Low Countries (Abingdon: Routledge, 2017).

* John Arblaster & Rob Faesen (eds.), A Companion to John of Ruusbroec (Leiden: Brill, 2014).


Grote Kauwenberg 34
2000 Antwerpen
Tel. 032655781