Beth Dodd

Director of Studies, Centre for Formation in Ministry and Lecturer in Doctrine and Theology, Arts and Culture

+44 (0)1722 424825
Twitter: @ElizabethSDodd

I came to Sarum College in 2012 after completing my doctorate at Cambridge University, under the supervision of Prof. David Ford. I first joined as BA programme leader and then director of studies for the STETS ministry training course. Since 2014 I have continued with the Sarum Centre for Formation in Ministry as programme leader for the MA and tutor in doctrine and church history. I am also associate programme leader for the MA in Theology, Imagination and Culture, where I teach in my specialisms in literature and aesthetics.

My early published work focussed on raising the profile of the Anglican priest and poet Thomas Traherne (c.1637-1674). His metaphysical poetry, like that of George Herbert before him, represents a key moment in the development of Anglican spirituality. Traherne also provides a unique window into traditions of Christian innocence. My first monograph explains how innocence in Traherne’s work, consistent with a broader tradition of Latin Christian thought, is not confined to Eden or the enclosed garden of childhood, but is a significant aspect of experience throughout the Christian life, as part of the imitatio Christi (imitation of Christ). This project spawned two essay collections: one on Traherne in his seventeenth-century context, and one on the theme of innocence in literature and theology since the 1600s.

My current research has moved into the realm of theological aesthetics, focussed on lyric poetry and lyric theory. My next monograph will explore the lyric voice in English theology, broadening the definition of lyric from Romantic expressivist understandings of an emotional and solipsistic voice, to explore the public and performative characteristics of lyric and its contribution to English theology. Parallel to this I am working towards the development of a theological lyric theory, in dialogue with G.W.F. Hegel and Hans Urs von Balthasar, and drawing on recent developments in lyric theory. In October 2017 I was appointed as a Research Associate at the Oxford Centre for Christianity and Culture, based at Regent’s Park College in Oxford, where I hope to develop research in theology, poetry and poetics.

I love teaching across the range of programmes at Sarum College and for our diverse cohorts of students, from public evening lectures (TQQ and Ventures in Faith) to our ministry programmes (doctrine modules for the BA and MA) to the MA programmes (module convenor for modules on Theological Aesthetics and Theology and Film).

“Excellent quality. Prepared, thoughtful, challenging delivery – Now that’s the gold standard that should be followed! (MA Christian Approaches to Leadership student)

Research Interests

  • Theology, lyric tradition and lyric theory
  • Theological aesthetics and genre theory, including narrative and drama
  • Seventeenth-century metaphysical poetry
  • Thomas Traherne
  • Innocence


Single-Authored Books

  • Elizabeth S. Dodd, The Lyric Voice in English Theology (forthcoming)
  • Elizabeth S. Dodd, Boundless Innocence in Thomas Traherne’s Poetic Theology: “Were all Men Wise and Innocent…” (Farnham: Ashgate, 2015)

Edited Collections

  • Elizabeth S. Dodd and Carl E. Findley III (eds), Innocence Uncovered: Literary and Theological Perspectives (Routledge, September 2016) Elizabeth S. Dodd and Cassandra Gorman (eds), Thomas Traherne and Seventeenth-Century Thought (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2016).

Articles and Chapters

  •  ‘Borders and Boundaries in the Poetry of R.S. Thomas and Thomas Traherne’, Marcher Metaphysicals (conference proceedings, forthcoming) ‘Thomas Traherne’s Theology of the Fall’, Fall Narratives (Routledge 2016).
  • ‘“Perfect Innocency By Creation” in the Thought of Thomas Traherne’, Literature and Theology (September 2015).
  • ‘The Sacramental Image of the Child in the Thought of Thomas Traherne, and its Theological Significance’, Children’s Spirituality: Theology, Research and Practice. Christian Perspectives for Home, Church, and Community, ed. Kevin E. Lawson & Donald Ratcliff (Wipf & Stock, 2012).

Selected Conference Papers

  • September 2016: ‘Borders and Boundaries in R.S. Thomas and Thomas Traherne’, ISRLC conference, Glasgow October 2015: ‘Innocence and the Borders of the Soul in the Work of Thomas Traherne’, Marcher Metaphysicals Conference, Bangor University.
  • April 2015: ‘”Innocent no man is in this world”: The Negation of Innocence in Thomas Traherne’s Theological Poetics’, Society for the Study of Theology Conference, Nottingham University.
  • June 2014: ‘Thomas Traherne’s Theology of the Fall’, Fall Narratives: An Interdisciplinary Perspective, Aberdeen University Conference.
  • January 2013: ‘Created Innocent: Retrieving the Theological Implications of an Idea through the Writings of Thomas Wilson and Thomas Traherne’, King’s College London RIST Seminar.
  • December 2012: ‘Innocent as the Day he was Born? Traherne’s Un-Romantic Innocence in the Light of Christian Spiritual Tradition’, Thomas Traherne Studies and their Future Directions Conference, Selwyn College, Cambridge.
  • November 2012: ‘Peace, Purity and Assurance: Thomas Traherne’s Devotional Platonism as seen through the Unity of Apatheia and Divine Desire’, American Academy of Religion.

Employment History

  • February 2014 to June 2015 – Director of Studies. Southern Theological Education and Training Scheme
  • September 2012 to February 2014 – BA Programme Leader, Southern Theological Education and Training Scheme


  • 2013 – PhD in Theology, University of Cambridge
  • 2008 – MTh, University of Edinburgh
  • 2007 – MA in Modern History, Oxford University

Grants and Awards

  • 2015-16 Common Awards Seedcorn Research Grant for a project on Open Learning for Theology, Ministry and Mission
  • 2012 AHRC funding for a conference on ‘Thomas Traherne: New Directions’, Selwyn College, Cambridge, resulting in the essay collection, Thomas Traherne and Seventeenth-Century Thought (Boydell and Brewer, 2016).
  • 2009-2012 Domestic Research Studentship, University of Cambridge
  • 2007-8 AHRC Award, MA at Edinburgh University