Episode 27: Karen Swallow Prior on Reading Joseph Conrad Well

In this episode, I speak with Karen Swallow Prior, who is professor of English literature, Christianity, and Culture at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. We discuss how reading great books can be an education in virtue, and we apply these ideas to a reading of Joseph Conrad’s influential and controversial novella, Heart of Darkness.

I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Karen Swallow Prior is Research Professor of English Literature and Christianity and Culture at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She is the author of Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me (T. S. Poetry Press, 2012), Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More—Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist (Thomas Nelson, 2014), and On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Books (Brazos, 2018). She is co-editor of Cultural Engagement: A Crash Course in Contemporary Issues (Zondervan 2019) and has contributed to numerous other books. Her writing has appeared at Christianity TodayThe AtlanticThe Washington PostFirst ThingsVoxRelevantThink Christian, The Gospel Coalition, Religion News Service, Books and Culture and other places. She and her husband live on a 100-year old homestead in central Virginia with sundry horses, dogs, and chickens. And lots of books.

Jennifer A. Frey is associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina and fellow of the Institute for Human Ecology at the Catholic University of America. Prior to joining the philosophy faculty at USC, she was a Collegiate Assistant Professor of Humanities at the University of Chicago, where she was a member of the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts and an affiliated faculty in the philosophy department.  She earned her Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh, and her B.A. in Philosophy and Medieval Studies (with Classics minor) at Indiana University-Bloomington. She has published widely on action, virtue, practical reason, and meta-ethics, and has recently co-edited an interdisciplinary volume, Self-Transcendence and Virtue: Perspectives from Philosophy, Theology, and PsychologyShe lives in Columbia, SC, with her husband, six children, and six chickens.

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Sacred and Profane Love is a podcast in which philosophers, theologians, and literary critics discuss some of their favorite works of literature, and how these works have shaped their own ideas about love, happiness, and meaning in human life. Host Jennifer A. Frey is associate professor of philosophy at the University of South Carolina. The podcast is generously supported by The Institute for Human Ecology at the Catholic University of America and produced by William Deatherage.

Music credits, “Help me Somebody,” by Brian Eno and David Byrne, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.5.

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