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Faculty of Divinity


Theme: Artistic Creation and Inspiration - Theological, Metaphysical, and Phenomenological Approaches

We are delighted to announce a collaborative initiative between the University of Cambridge's students of theology and the Institut Catholique de Toulouse's students of philosophy.

Over the past years, our students have discovered mutual enthusiasms, and we aim to strengthen these warm relations further. In this spirit, we are organising two 'journées d'étude', one in Cambridge and one in Toulouse, centred on short postgraduate-student papers. The focus of these study days will be on the theme of artistic creation and inspiration.

The Cambridge Study Day, to be held on 15 February at the Faculty of Divinity, is open to all UK-based postgraduate students, who are invited to submit paper proposals [see details at the bottom of this page].

Keynote papers will be delivered by Professor Andrea Bellantone (ICT) and Professor Catherine Pickstock (Cambridge).

Creation is a commonplace concept, used (and abused) by numerous disciplines. Traditionally, Christian theology, following Jewish sources but also retooling the metaphysical categories of Greek thought, attributed creation uniquely to God, who made the world ex nihilo. It is only in the modern period that human beings have come to understand their own acts of making as ‘creative’, presenting them variously as a ‘participation’ in the divine creatio continuo or as a competitive bid for sovereignty and self-actualisation against the pretence of a divinely predetermined order. Indeed, the artist’s experience of creation is often treated, explicitly or not, as the only remaining vehicle of true transcendence, a kind of earthly divinity ‘after the death of God’. As such, the moment of artistic creation, as well as its reception and repetition in the audience’s encounter with the work, offers a rare site where phenomenological questions–about the essence of manifestation, say, or the lived experience of ‘inspiration’--open onto metaphysical questions–about the extent to which the artist, to quote R.P. Blackmur, ‘adds to the stock of available reality’-- and vice versa. The impetus for these journées d’études is the conviction that both phenomenological and metaphysically realist approaches can mutually enrich our understanding of the emergence, through the artistic process, of something where there once was nothing.

We welcome proposals for papers that investigate various aspects of artistic creation and inspiration, particularly those with philosophical and theological underpinnings.

While not exhaustive, we encourage contributors to address the following issues:

  • Can artists ‘speak the real’?
  • Experiential accounts or phenomenologies of the artistic process.
  • The analogy between divine and human creativity.
  • Consonances and dissonances between metaphysically realist and phenomenological ontologies of art.
  • Whether art is predominantly craft or inspiration.
  • The meaning and salience of classical concepts such as technē, poiēsis, mania, enthousiasmos, ingenium, ars, etc.
  • Fabrication vs creation.
  • Comparisons between the method of creation in music, the plastic arts, film, and literature.
  • Creation and creativity as a theme in modern philosophy.

Submission Guidelines

Interested postgraduate students based in the UK are invited to submit abstracts of their proposed papers for consideration.

Abstracts should be no more than 300 words and must clearly outline the topic, research questions, and main arguments.

Abstract Submission Deadline: Sunday 10 December 2023

Submission and Inquiries

Please submit your abstracts, and any inquiries, to

We aim to notify successful applicants before Christmas.

A second Study Day on Phenomenology and Poetics is planned for 10 May 2024, with keynote by Professor Emmanuel Falque. Details will be advertised on the Faculty website in early 2024.


Thursday, 15 February, 2024 - 10:30
Event location: 
Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge, West Road, Cambridge, CB3 9BS


Current students and supervisors can access the Faculty’s Moodle page by clicking on the image below.