Shape-shifting: TheoArtistry Poetry as Theological Action Research

Kimberley Jane Anderson 1  and John Bolland 2
  • 1 Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts, University of St Andrews,, St Andrews, U.K.
  • 2 Poet and Writer, North Balnoon Cottage, Huntly,, Aberdeenshire, UK


This paper describes a creative partnership between a theologian and a poet arranged by the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts at the University of St Andrews in 2018. The TheoArtistry project seeks to reintroduce artists to traditional religious culture and to foster collaborations between academics and art practitioners (Corbett). In this article we discuss and utilise Theological Action Research methodology (Cameron et al.), to explore the process and outcomes of one such collaboration tasked to produce a poem inspired by an Old Testament passage and the theme of “Annunciation.” The researchers in this collaboration drew on a diverse range of cultural forms and accommodated a position of scepticism towards Christian faith. An examination of the cycles of action and reflection in the production of the poem enables conclusions to be made concerning the impact of this interaction upon the collaborators’ theological thought and practice. This section closes with the final poem and a brief team commentary. The final section evaluates the partnership in terms of the TheoArtistry goals and shows how it both supported the project and set a challenging precedent for broadening the scope of theological openness and inclusivity in future collaborations.

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Open Cultural Studies is a peer-reviewed journal exploring the fields of Humanities, Social Sciences and Arts. It interprets culture in an inclusive sense and promotes new research perspectives in cultural studies. The journal aims to enhance international collaboration among scholars from the Global North and the Global South and help early-career researchers. It is also committed to increasing public access to scholarship on cultural studies.