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Thomas K. Graff


Doctoral Candidate, PhD in Theology and Religious Studies | University of Cambridge. "Dante's Christological Poetics in Light of Augustine." Supervisor: Rowan Williams; Giles Waller

MPhil in Theology, Religion, and Philosophy of Religion | University of Cambridge. "Universalism in Augustine and Hans Urs von Balthasar." Supervisor: Rowan Williams

MA in Italian Studies | University of Notre Dame. "A Rhetoric of Suspension: Rethinking Salvation in Dante's Commedia." Supervisor: Vittorio Montemaggi 

BA in Philosophy & Theology and in Italian Studies | University of Notre Dame. "A Grammar of Certainty: Newman and Wittgenstein on Rationality & Religious Belief." Supervisor: Cyril O’Regan

Subject area and speciality

Christian Theology specialists:

Research Interests

Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Aquinas, Dante Alighieri, John Henry Newman, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Thomas Merton, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Donald MacKinnon

Systematic Theology | Christology; soteriology; eschatology

Religion and Literature | Dante's theology; theology and tragedy; religion and contemporary poetry

Social Justice | prison education; philosophical and theological critiques of criminal justice; restorative justice


HM Prison Whitemoor | March, Cambridgeshire, UK

Literature and Justice: Dante's Divine Comedy. Convener and Lecturer. Organized as part of Learning Together, Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge. Easter 2019.

University of Notre Dame | Notre Dame, Indiana, US

Moreau First Year Experience. University of Notre Dame, First Year of Studies, 2016–17

Beginning Italian 1. University of Notre Dame, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, 2015–16

Rome Global Gateway, University of Notre Dame | Rome, Italy

Rome: History, Culture, Experience. Lecturer and Language Instructor. Organized via the Office of Pre-College Programs, University of Notre Dame, Summer 2017

South Bend Community Re-entry Center | South Bend, Indiana, US

Conflict Resolution. Co-instructor. Organized by Take Ten, Robinson Community Learning Center, Fall 2016

Peacekeeping Circles. Co-instructor. Organized by Take Ten, Robinson Community Learning Center, Fall 2016

Westville Correctional Facility | Westville, Indiana, US

Westville Educational Initiative (now the Moreau College Initiative). Tutor. Mentored essay composition, hosted weekly study hall, and researched and delivered articles to students, 2016–2017

Other Professional Activities

Reading Groups

Religion in Contemporary Poetry. Co-convener, Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge, 2018–2020.

Dante Circle. Co-convener, Cambridge University Catholic Chaplaincy, 2018–2020.

Good Life, Good Society. Small Group Facilitator, HM Prison Whitemoor, Learning Together, Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge, Spring 2018.

Academic & Artistic Events

“Authorship and Adaptation: An Interview with Eleanor Catton.” Co-organizer and interviewer. Discussed the craft of fiction across multiple media with New Zealand novelist and screenwriter, Eleanor Catton. Old Combination Room, Trinity College, 28 February 2020

Poetry Reading with Rowan Williams. Organizer and moderator. Hosted by the “Religion in Contemporary Poetry” Reading Group in conjunction with the Trinity College Chaplaincy, June 2019

Rowan Williams, “Relieved by Prayer: Power, Shame and Redemption in Shakespeare’s Drama. Invited response panelist for lecture organized by the journal Religion & Literature and Notre Dame Forum, University of Notre Dame, 26 Nov 2018

“Journeying the Commedia: Desert, Discovery, Song...” Production consultant. An immersive theatrical adaptation of Dante’s Divine Comedy, 8–9 October 2016. DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, University of Notre Dame 

Leadership, Employment & Service

Junior Treasurer. BA Society, Trinity College, 2019–2020

Liaison Officer. BA Society, Trinity College 2018–2019

Research Assistant to Kevin G. Grove CSC, Assistant Professor at the Department of Theology. University of Notre Dame, 2016-2017

AmeriCorps Member. Federal volunteer with Take Ten, a conflict resolution, violence prevention program housed within the Robinson Community Learning Center, a non-profit dedicated to youth literacy, the arts, and community advocacy, 2016–2017

Key Publications

Peer-reviewed Journal Articles

“Predestination in Dante’s Commedia in Light of Augustine.” Literature and Theology (forthcoming).

"In societatem filii eius: Predestination in/as Friendship with God in Thomas Aquinas." Neue Zeitschrift für Systematische Theologie und Religionsphilosophie (forthcoming).

“Virgil the Theologian.” Le Tre Corone: Rivista internazionale di studi su Dante, Petrarca, Boccaccio 7 (2020): 119–132.

Book Reviews

Review of Conversion and the Rehabilitation of the Penal System: A Theological Rereading of Criminal Justice, by Andrew Skotnicki. Reviews in Religion & Theology 27, no. 3 (July 2020): 413–416.

“Reality Theater: Staging Film in the University of Notre Dame’s Six Characters in Search of an Author.” In The Journal of the Pirandello Society of America, 27 (2014): 125–128.

Lecture & Conference Presentations

“A Curious Remark: Wittgenstein and Newman on Certainty." Conference paper to be delivered at “John Henry Newman: Scholar, Sage, Saint,” hosted at Oriel College, University of Oxford, and co-sponsored by the National Institute for Newman Studies, 20–22 September, 2021

“Augustine at the Heart of Dante’s Poetics." Conference paper to be delivered at “The Call of Literature: Theology, Philosophy and Literature in Conversation,” at the Power of the Word International Conference, Loyola Institute, Trinity College Dublin, 30 June–3 July 2021

“Ludic Contingencies: Tragedy as Play in Donald MacKinnon." Conference paper to be delivered at the 2021 Society for the Study of Theology annual conference in the Theological Ethics Stream, University of Nottingham, 12–14 April 2021

"Meta-Theater of Contempt: Subverting Courtly Authority in Pietro Aretino’s Il Marescalco." Conference paper to be delivered in the "Italian Theatre and its Publics: 1500–Present" session of the Northeast Modern Language Association annual convention, Philadelphia, 11–14 March

“Predestination to Eternal Friendship? Reviewing Aquinas’s Scriptural Commentaries." Conference paper to be delivered at “Hope and Death: Christian Responses,” The Aquinas Center, Ave Maria University, 11–14 February 2021

“Christianity as Protest: Reading the Book of Job and the Gospels During a Pandemic." Christian Theology Zoom Graduate Panel, Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge, 27 May 2020

“Grasping the Unknowable God: The Role of Tactile Language in Augustine's Christology." Conference paper delivered at the Oxford Symposium on Religious Studies, Somerville College, University of Oxford, 2–4 December 2019

“Towards an Epistemology of Tears in Dante’s Earthly Paradise." Conference paper delivered at “Philosophy and the Divine Comedy,” Villanova University, 14–15 November 2019

“Is Friendship the End of Criminal Justice? Dante’s Comedy, Pilgrimage, and the Carceral Imagination." Conference paper delivered at “I Have Called You Friends,” hosted by the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture, University of Notre Dame, 7–9 November 2019

“Newman’s Apologia." Invited public lecture for the Hues of Faith Lecture Series, Cambridge University Catholic Chaplaincy, 29 October 2019

“Joy's Rebuke: Dante, Augustine, and the Problem of Predestination in Paradiso XIX–XXI."Poster Presentation at Dante Salon of “Psychology and the Other,” Boston College, 4–6 October 2019

“‘Glorïa in excelsis tutti ‘Deo’: Suspension and the Liturgical Transformation of Desire on the Terrace of Avarice." Conference paper delivered at “Lyric and Liturgy in Dante’s Commedia,” Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Cambridge, 5 July 2019

“Virgil’s Innocence: Aporia or Artifice? Dante’s Commedia and the Problematics of Theological Authority." Conference paper delivered at the Congresso Dantesco Internazionale, Università di Bologna, Campus di Ravenna, 29 May–1 June 2019 

“Tragedy as Hermeneutic: Donald MacKinnon on the Problem of Evil." Graduate seminar presentation delivered at Trinity College, University of Cambridge, 13 March 2018

“A Rhetoric of Suspension: Rethinking Salvation in the Commedia." Graduate seminar paper delivered at the Italian Research Seminar, University of Notre Dame, 25 Feb 2016

Other Publications

Canto per Canto: Conversations with Dante in Our Time. Contributor. A series of video commentaries on each canto of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, organized by NYU Italian Studies

  • Paradiso 20: Matthew Rothaus Moser and Thomas Graff (forthcoming)
  • Purgatorio 13: Stephen Pepper and Thomas Graff (forthcoming)

ThinkLets. Contributor. Learning Together, Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge. A series of interdisciplinary educational resources distributed to all prisons of Her Majesty’s Prison & Probative Service in the Learning Together Network, created in response to the visitor restrictions imposed by the covid-19 pandemic.

“Prison reform – lessons from the Inferno.” The Tablet (2 July 2020).

“Why protesting injustice is a fundamentally Christian act.” America Magazine (2 July 2020).

“Zen and the Rich Young Man.” Church Life Journal (14 November 2018).

“Religion and the Arts: Augustine’s Netflix.” Church Life Journal (28 March 2017).

“Religion and the Arts: Wheelbarrows, Boots, and the Breath of Life.” (14 February 2017).


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