Willemien Otten

Willemien Otten has been named the Dorothy Grant Maclear Professor in the Divinity School and the College. She was one of twenty-one University of Chicago faculty members who received distinguished service professorships or named professorships this year.

A historian of Christianity and Christian thought, Otten focuses on the medieval and early Christian intellectual tradition, with an emphasis on the continuity of Platonic themes. The role of nature and humanity interest her most; her work draws attention to an idea of nature in which nature is an ally and co-worker of the divine.

She is the author of numerous volumes including the recent Thinking Nature and the Nature of Thinking: From Eriugena to Emerson (2020) and serves as an editor for the Journal of Religion. Otten is also the editor or co-editor of landmark works in the theological field, including the three-volume Oxford Guide to the Historical Reception of Augustine(2013) and Augustine Our Contemporary. Examining the Self in Past and Present (2018).

Otten was named a 2015–2016 Luce Fellow by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS) and The Henry Luce Foundation, Inc. She has served as the President of the Society for Eriugenian Studies (SPES) since 2011. Among her many honors are a 2019 honorary doctorate from the University of Copenhagen, awarded for her comprehensive work in the history of theology and church history.

As director of the Martin Marty Center for the Public Understanding of Religion, Otten oversees a variety of programming—from fellowships and visiting scholars, to papers and conferences—in order to bring to life crucial conversations on religion in public life.