Karen Donskov Felter

PhD Fellow im EU-Projekt "HHFDWC"

Einrichtung: Seminar für Alte Kirchengeschichte
Projekt: "The History of Human Freedom and Dignity in Western Civilization"
E-Mail: donskovf AT uni-muenster DOT de


My name is Karen Donskov Felter, and I graduated as cand.theol. in 2014 from the University of Copenhagen. My primary academic interests are postmodern theology and the body as an epistemological source. During my studies I have focused on postmodern feminist and queer theology, and how it challenges gendered cultures and practices, social construction and political power, ideology, and the historical production of norms. My thesis ”Enqueering Exegesis” is an investigation of queer theology’s influence on the study of the New Testament.

My PhD project focuses on the so-called Cambridge Platonists and Latitudinarian Anglicans, particularly Ralph Cudworth, Henry More and Anne Conway and how their idea of human freedom relates to the body. The hermeneutics of the body is central to the understanding of contemporary theological discussions, as philosophers such as Descartes and Hobbes influenced the debate. It is often said that with Descartes the subject is born, and with him the dichotomy of mind and body became the prevalent way of understanding the human.

Origen's concept of freedom is also tied to a special relationship between body and mind, namely in his theory of the spiritual senses. Based on this theory, the Cambridge Platonists could draw on an Origenian concept of freedom in which there is no dichotomy between mind and body. At the core of their liberal philosophy was Origen’s notion of freedom and the capability of moral self-determination. Based on this idea, they forged the first Anglican rational theology in the footsteps of Origenism and Platonism and thus turned out to be forerunners of the concept of human autonomy and agency during the Enlightenment.

The Cambridge Platonists’ hermeneutics of the body is a historically relevant source for the postmodern discussion. My project explores how the debates on body and freedom of the 17th century can interact with the bodily epistemology of today.

My study will be conducted at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Dr. Alfons Fürst.