English Professor James Kee brought a lifetime of interest and experience when he spent part of the summer assisting English major Chase Padusniak ‘15 with his summer research project, titled “The Will to Charity: The Movement of the Will in Piers Plowman and the Works of George Grant.” The project was part of the College’s Summer Research Program.
Padusniak took Kee’s Readings in Medieval Literature class during his freshman year, alongside political philosophy courses in which he was introduced to the 20th century works of Canadian philosopher and political commentator George Grant. After noticing strong resemblances in the works of Grant with the long medieval poem “Piers Plowman” which he studied in Kee’s class, Padusniak devoted his summer to writing a thesis that explored the link between the two. “Looking at Piers Plowman and the works of George Grant was not just pleasurable,” Padusniak says, “but really touched on universal truth in two different historical contexts. The project was really aimed at seeing the unity in what seems a mountain difference.”
To help him with his undertaking, Padusniak also enlisted the aid of Matthew Dinan, visiting assistant professor of political science. Both Dinan and Kee were more than happy to provide the necessary assistance.
A 33-year veteran of the English department, Kee has a long history with “Piers Plowman.” Written and rewritten by English poet William Langland over a 20-year span in the late 14th century, the poem is an allegory in the form of a dream vision that focuses on the search to lead a true Christian life.
Kee, who wrote his doctorate dissertation on the poem and has returned to it countless times in the years since, says he still remains “impressed by the integrity of Langland’s poetic vision.” Langland wrote at the tail end of a century that began with Dante’s “Divine Comedy”, and Kee believes the two stand as fitting bookends for the philosophical and theological shifts that occurred in the interim. He admits the difficulty level is high for modern readers to descend into the work, but says this makes Padusniak’s independent study all the more impressive. While they both share the same infectious enthusiasm discussing “Piers,” Kee makes it explicitly clear that this was Padusniak’s ballgame from the start, and he was happy to simply provide some relief pitching.
“I didn’t see assisting in Chase’s project as work,” says Kee. “It was a real joy and pleasure to return back to the poem again alongside a fresh set of eyes. This is a work that allows for continual study, and seeing Chase’s work on it is just evidence that it will continue to prove so for many years to come.”
Vannicelli Lecture by Jacob Medina '16See More > 04/10/2015
A Seussebration: Hats Off to 111 Years of Dr. SeussSee More > 04/15/2015
Lunch & Learn: LGBTQ Safe ZoneSee More > 04/17/2015
'Libertad' performed by The College Choir and Chamber SingersSee More >
‘The 50 Best Private Colleges for Earning Your Degree On Time’
According to Money, a subsidiary of TIME.com, the College of the Holy Cross ranks No. 12 in the top 50 best private colleges for earning your degree on time and No. 101 for...03/04/15
‘At Notre Dame, a door closes, but many more are opening across Catholic higher ed’
Wall Street Journal | The Conversation
Joanne Pierce, professor of religious studies at College of the Holy Cross and a University of Notre Dame alumna, reflects on the legacy of Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, president...02/18/15
‘Exploring an Institution’s Roots: Board Members Walk in a Saint’s Footsteps’
In the January/February issue of Trusteeship Magazine, Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J., president of the College of the Holy Cross, reflects on the pilgrimage he led with a...