A lot of attention gets focused on the content of theology: the ideas and arguments that theologians produce. Rather less gets focused on the practice of theology: who does it, where, and how, and what it might mean for them to be doing it well. Of course, there is plenty of discussion of ‘method’ in theology, but it often focused at an abstract level, asking about the kinds of argument and evidence that can properly underpin theological conclusions, rather than on the practical activities of arguing, evidence gathering, and concluding, and on the people who engage in those practices.
This January the Department of Theology and Religion is holding a colloquium in honour Gillian Rose on the 20th anniversary of her untimely passing from ovarian cancer. Her influence in both theology and social theory remains extensive, reaching from the Radical Orthodoxy of John Milbank to the radical atheism of Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek. However, specific attention to Rose remains marginal.
Rose was by many standards an exception: she studied Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at St Hilda’s College Oxford in the late 60s, going on to complete a doctorate on Theodore Adorno, later to become The Melancholy Science: An Introduction to the Thought of Theodor W. Adorno (1978), recently reissued by Verso. Along with her sister Jacqueline Rose – the literary critic – she was instrumental in the reception of continental philosophy in England from the mid-nineteen eighties onward. She was Reader at the School of European Studies (the University of Sussex) and then Professor of Social and Political Thought at the University of Warwick from 1989 to 1995.