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Faculty of Divinity



Steven was born in 1986 in Chicago, and emigrated to New Zealand in 2011. In 2018, he completed his MPhil in Theology, Religion and the Philosophy of Religion under the supervision of Rowan Williams. He is currently working toward a PhD with Norris-Hulse Professor Catherine Pickstock on the poetics of Nicholas of Cusa. Steven is also a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and the International Institute of Modern Letters. He has published two collections of poetry, THE BELLFOUNDER (The Cultural Society, 2015) and LAY STUDIES (Victoria University Press, 2019), which was shortlisted for the Mary and Peter Biggs Award at the 2020 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. Recent poems can be found in POETRYCommonweal and The Spinoff.



  • Poetry and Poetics
  • Nicholas of Cusa
  • The Metaphysics of Creation
  • Trinitarian Theology

Steven's doctoral research concerns the German Renaissance philosopher and theologian Nicholas of Cusa (1401-64) and critically engages the body of recent scholarship pertaining to Cusa's conception of human creativity and how it relates to his historical and intellectual milieu. He argues that Cusa's theory of human “making” (facere), as an image of the arte divina, needs to be interpreted within the context of his motivating concern for the metaphysical status of posse or possibility. He contests common readings of Cusa that either conflate his speculations about human creativity and possibility with the nominalist epistemologies of modernity or read into Cusa an early anticipation of the destruction of metaphysics consummated by Martin Heidegger. Steven aims to reconstruct Cusa’s poetics of possibility, a theory of human knowledge as facere, reducible neither to a proto-modern transcendental epistemology nor to a proto-postmodern discourse of finitude, immanence, and virtuality. The idiosyncrasy of Cusa's poetics, as John Milbank and others have intimated, suggests a road not taken in the history of speculation about human and divine factivity. Cusa, in his own way, can be seen to conceive of human knowledge and divine creation synergistically or, in the Neoplatonic register Cusa inherits, "theurgically." The inadequacy of philosophical speculation to represent divinity, the imprecision of all conceptual schema, the manifestation in Christ of God as absolute possibility necessitate an ongoing theurgic practice of divine naming and symbolic invention to continually re-produce the site of contemplation. This very theurgic capacity or ars is the site where God’s nature, in its created likeness, is most intelligible.

 Steven  Toussaint

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