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June Research Seminar

The Apocalyptic Mary: the Labour of Creation and the End of the World

Date: 5th June 2024

Time: 3pm - 4:30pm (in the UK)

Venue: Online via Zoom

In our June research seminar, the Reverend Professor Steven Shakespeare (Liverpool Hope University) will consider Mary as an apocalyptic figure, in dialogue with recent developments in continental philosophy, political theology and Marian scholarship. In reading Mary through the sign (semeion) of the woman in Revelation 12, his paper will connect with an ancient, but always contested hermeneutic of scripture, in which allegorical and typological motifs proliferate. The exuberance of this tradition is also grounds for concern among those who suspect it of wilful invention, irrationality, lack of groundedness in the clear word of scripture and so on. And yet it is that very risk-taking in the Marian sign that his paper will take to be fruitful.

The Church of Our Lady and St Nicholas, Liverpool

He will argue that to think Mary apocalyptically need not be a reassertion of reactionary binaries; rather it opens up new possibilities for reading and encountering Mary, in ways that challenge our notions of creation, labour and the limits of the ‘world’ as a system of defined identities and powers. The apocalyptic Mary is an embodied sign, in whom the boundary between earth and heaven is both crossed and complicated. As such, she troubles the very binary distinctions she is often used to reinforce: between male and female, earth and heaven, active God and passive creation.

The Reverend Steven Shakespeare is Professor of Continental Philosophy of Religion at Liverpool Hope University. His academic work has included four monographs (two on Kierkegaard, one each on Derrida and the theology of Radical Orthodoxy), four edited volumes and a co-authored book of popular theology, as well as numerous essays and articles. His work ranges from abstract ideas of the unconditioned to the excess and extremes of black metal; from animality to reflecting on his experiences as branch secretary of his local trade union. Steven has also become known as a writer of liturgy and prayer, through works such as Prayers for an Inclusive Church (2009) and The Earth Cries Glory: Daily Prayer with Creation (2019). His collection of 'prayer poems' for the Christian year, Come Holy Gift, was published by Canterbury Press (2022). As an Anglican priest, he regularly preaches and presides in the Team Parish of St Luke in the City in Liverpool, and in Liverpool Hope’s chapel. He is a member of the Sodality of Mary, a dispersed community of priests in the Anglo-Catholic tradition.


To join the audience, please register for the free Zoom link by sending an email to Catherine O'Brien at


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