"Union without End": The Physico-Theological Vision


ACLS Fellowship Program




This project explores an ecological discourse that flourished in Restoration and eighteenth-century England: "physico-theology," which read "the book of nature" as a testament to the wisdom and benevolence of its divine author. It demonstrates that the literature of physico-theology approached reading nature as an exercise in sympathetic identification, promoting habits of thought that were suited to the new prose fiction. It also reveals physico-theology's links to the emergent discourse of political economy. The project approaches physico-theology not merely as a set of arguments but as an affective and imaginative devotional practice: an imitatio Christi modeled on the kenosis rather than the crucifixion.