Contemplation in Community


00:00:15 Introductions
00:01:40 Opening Prayer
00:04:35 What is Contemplation in Community?
00:06:25 St John Henry Newman on Contemplation – in the Midst of Ordinary Things
00:07:35 the Samaritan Woman at the Well
00:10:30 Sts. Augustine & Monica – Joint Contemplation
00:20:00 Jane Austen & Contemplation – Fanny Price & Edmund Bertram at the Window
00:31:20 Contemplating the Order in Creation through Nature – Dr Duquette’s Conversion Story
00:49:40 Angelica Kauffman painting of Woman at the Well: Meeting Disputation with Grace and the Fruits of the Spirit
00:53:25 Question & Answer Session
00:54:30 Connection between Austen and Augustine?
00:57:35 the Sublime Drawing us out of Ourselves in Frankenstein?
00:59:45 Closing Remarks & Prayer


“Writers from St. Augustine of Hippo to Jane Austen have represented men and women together observing the natural world and thus being lifted into edifying conversation. In his Confessions St. Augustine recalls standing at a window overlooking a garden in Rome and speaking with his mother St. Monica until they are drawn from God’s “works” to contemplating eternal “Wisdom”. In Austen’s novel Mansfield Park, the Oxford theology student Edmund Bertram stands gazing out a window with his cousin Fanny Price, until she declares there would be less “wickedness and sorrow” in the world if more people attended to “the sublimity of nature”. These two scenes, one historical and one imagined, suggest men and women may be lifted together into theological and ethical forms of discourse by looking beyond themselves, out of windows, onto the beauty of Creation. Situated as we are, in the twenty-first century, how could we emulate the humble, receptive, and dialogic posture of St. Monica, as remembered by her son, or of Fanny Price, as imagined by Austen? I initially learnt the practice of collaborative speaking, writing, and editing in a graduate seminar on Virginia Woolf at the University of Toronto. The experience yielded my first academic publication: a book chapter co-authored with five other people. In my own journey as an academic, which ultimately led me into the Catholic Church, I have continued to engage in very collaborative forms of scholarship. My lecture will share some of these concrete experiences of contemplation in community as reason for hope.”      

About Professor Duquette

“Dr. Natasha Duquette is author of 30-Day Journey with Jane Austen (Fortress Press, 2020) and is currently serving as editor-in-chief for The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Romantic-Era Women’s Writing (Palgrave MacMillan), which is a collaborative project involving writers based in universities around the globe. She is also author of Veiled Intent (Pickwick, 2016), co-editor of Jane Austen and the Arts: Elegance, Propriety, and Harmony (Lehigh University Press, 2013), and editor of Sublimer Aspects: Interfaces between Literature, Aesthetics, and Theology (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007). For the Chawton House Library series, she produced the first annotated, scholarly edition of Helen Maria Williams’s Julia, a novel interspersed with poetical pieces (Routledge, 2009). Her articles have appeared in the journals PersuasionsEnglish Studies in CanadaChristianity and LiteratureNotes and QueriesMosaic, and Women’s Writing. She has contributed essays to multiple collections, including Through a Glass Darkly: Suffering, the Sacred, and the Sublime in Literature and Theory (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2010) and Art and Artifact in Austen (University of Virginia Press, 2020). Her research has been supported by fellowships from SSHRC, Chawton House, and Gladstone’s Library. Before coming to Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College, she taught full-time at the Royal Military College of Canada, Biola University in Southern California, and Tyndale University in Toronto, where she also served as Associate Dean of undergraduate studies for four years. She is an adult convert to the Catholic faith who was drawn to the Church by the sustaining peace she found in the mass and by the magisterium’s commitment to the beauty, goodness, and truth of the gospel. Dr. Duquette enjoys teaching courses on eighteenth-century satire, aesthetics, Jane Austen, African literature, and Indigenous writers of North America.

 Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, she spent her youth on the great plains, which sparked her interest in Indigenous literature. Her undergraduate honours thesis at the University of Alberta focused on The Book of Jessica: A Theatrical Transformation (1989), a text co-authored by settler actress Linda Griffiths and Métis writer Maria Campbell. While she was pursuing graduate studies at the University of Toronto and Queen’s University, Natasha benefited from conversations with her Ojibwe stepfather about spirituality, which led her closer to the idea of a Creator and, ultimately, to the sacramental truths of Christianity. Then, in the final stages of her doctoral dissertation, she wrote about the Dominican Bishop Bartolomé de las Casas, a Catholic anti-slavery reformer who advocated for the health and wellbeing of Indigenous groups in the Americas. Today, Dr. Duquette lives in the village of Killaloe with her husband Frederick Albert Duquette. They are now grandparents and “empty-nesters” who enjoy contemplative activities such as gardening and going on slow walks through the countryside together in the evening.

Select Publications

30-Day Journey with Jane Austen. Fortress Press, 2020.

“‘A Very Pretty Amber Cross’: Material Sources of Elegance in Mansfield Park.” Art and Artifact in Austen, edited by Anna Battigelli, University of Virginia Press, 2020, pp. 146–64.

“Dissenting Cosmopolitanism and Helen Maria Williams’s Prison Verse.” Women’s Writing: Cosmopolitan Endeavours Special Issue, edited by Enit Steiner, vol. 27, no. 1, 2020, pp. 80–96.  

“Eleanor Tilney as Cultural Historian.” Persuasions, vol. 41, no. 1, 2019, pp. 105–18.

 Veiled Intent: Dissenting Women’s Aesthetic Approach to Biblical Interpretation. Foreword by Nicholas Wolterstorff. Pickwick Publications, 2016.

Jane Austen and the Arts: Elegance, Propriety, and Harmony, edited by Natasha Duquette and Elisabeth Lenckos. Lehigh University Press, 2013. Reissued in Paperback, 2015.

“The ‘New-formed Leaves’ of Juvenilia Press.” English Studies in Canada, vol. 37, no. 3, 2012, pp.  201–18.

“Horrific Suffering, Sacred Terror, and Sublime Freedom in Helen Maria Williams’s Peru.” Through a Glass Darkly: Suffering, the Sacred, and the Sublime in Literature and Theory, edited by Holly Faith Nelson, Lynn Szabo, and Jens Zimmermann. Wilfred Laurier University Press, 2010, pp. 113–27.

“‘Motionless Wonder’: Contemplating the Gothic Sublime in Northanger Abbey.” Persuasions On-line, vol. 30, no. 2, 2010.

“‘Sublime Repose’: The Spiritual Aesthetics of Landscape in Austen.” Jane Austen Sings the Blues, edited by Nora Stovel. University of Alberta Press, 2009, pp. 91–100.

 Julia, a novel interspersed with poetical pieces by Helen Maria Williams, edited by Natasha Duquette, Routledge, 2009.

 Sublimer Aspects: Interfaces between Literature, Aesthetics, and Theology, edited by Natasha Duquette. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007.”

Taken from Dr. Duquette’s Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Faculty profile page

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