Kelli A. Gardner

Junior Fellow
My dissertation, “The Figure and Figuration of Woman in the Hebrew Bible,” is motivated by the questions of why and how Israel, when represented as land, city, and people, is repeatedly figured as a woman across the genres of the Hebrew Bible and across moments in Israelite history. From wayward wife of Yahweh in prophetic literature to victimized widow of Lamentations to the creative reimaginings of the female body as land and cityscape in the Song of Songs and the proliferation of female figures representing wisdom and folly in Proverbs, the female persona, body, and experiences are consistently drawn on to represent the collective identity and values of Israel. A central and unique argument of this dissertation is identifying and analyzing this phenomenon as a consistent cultural metaphor creatively reused across genres: geographical/political entity as a female body. 
During my time in the Divinity School I have long admired and adopted for my own work the Martin Marty Center’s mutually-reinforcing commitments of advancing academic inquiry in religion by engaging with the wider publics for which religion is a matter of profound concern. I am honored and excited to have the opportunity to deepen my scholarship and collegiality as a Martin Marty Junior Fellow. With this fellowship, I will write and revise two chapters of my dissertation. I look forward to participating in critical dialogue with this diverse group of colleagues, reaching beyond the limited concerns of a specific field or our immediate surroundings of Swift Hall.