Knight, Mark 1972- (Mark J. Knight)

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Knight, Mark 1972- (Mark J. Knight)


Born 1972. Education: Hull University, B.A.; King's College London, Ph.D.


Office—Roehampton University, Digby Stuart College, School of Arts, Roehampton Lane, Fincham 304, London SW15 5PH, England. E-mail—[email protected]


Writer, editor, historian, and educator. Roehampton University, London, England, reader in English literature.


Chesterton and Evil, Fordham University Press (New York, NY), 2004.

(Editor) Sensation and Detection: Mary Cecil Hay, Old Myddelton's Money (1874), Pickering & Chatto (Brookfield, VT), 2004.

(Editor, with Thomas Woodman) Biblical Religion and the Novel, 1700-2000, Ashgate (Burlington, VT), 2006.

(With Emma Mason) Nineteenth-Century Religion and Literature: An Introduction, Oxford University Press (Oxford; New York), 2006.

An Introduction to Religion and Literature, Continuum (New York, NY), 2009.

Contributor to books, including The Blackwell Companion to the Bible in English Literature, edited by Chris Rowland, Blackwell (Oxford, England), 2008. Contributor to periodicals and journals, including Victorian Literature and Culture, Nineteenth-Century Contexts, Dickens Studies Annual, Wilkie Collins Society Journal, English Literature in Transition, Literature and Theology, and Christianity and Literature.


Mark Knight is a writer, historian, and educator at Roehampton University in London, England, where he serves as a reader in English literature. He was educated at Hull University, where he received a B.A. in English and history, and earned a Ph.D. at King's College London. On the Roehampton University Web site, Knight described his main research interests as religion and literature, nineteenth-century literature, and writer G.K. Chesterton.

Knight has written numerous scholarly articles on Chesterton, and his first book, Chesterton and Evil, also focused on the writer, perhaps best known for his "Father Brown" mystery series. Chesterton was popularly perceived as a very cheerful and optimistic individual. "Those who knew Chesterton best were unanimous in their belief that he was a happy man," noted reviewer Ian Boyd in Christianity and Literature. "The popular impression of his writings was the same. Facile optimism, in fact, was a standard criticism" of his early works, Boyd continued. Though there was a great deal of optimism, joy, and exuberance in Chesterton's writing, Knight sees a darker side to the author's life and works. An encounter with evil and moral relativism while he was a student at the Slade School of Art and London University troubled Chesterton greatly, and resulted in a bout of depression. Ultimately, however, this troubling period became key to Chesterton's later buoyant optimism and delight with life. "Mark Knight is right to draw attention to the dark side of Chesterton's life and writing, and right also in seeing his experience of moral darkness as the clue to understanding his philosophy of joy," Boyd stated. "Instead of presuming that Chesterton's positive outlook constitutes a regrettable failure to confront the vicissitudes of life, Knight reasons that Chesterton's optimism was a way of offering a thoughtful and reserved response to evil," observed G.A. Cevasco, writing in English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920. "In place of the popular caricature of Chesterton as a lightweight Pollyanna, Knight postulates a writer who constructed a multifaceted and comprehensive response to evil," Cevasco further commented. "Mark Knight's book succeeds brilliantly in explaining the apparent contradiction between an author who taught a gospel of joy and a man who was preoccupied with the problem of evil," stated Boyd.

With Thomas Woodman, Knight is the editor of Biblical Religion and the Novel, 1700-2000, an examination of religious motifs found in literature as well as an exploration of particular novelists and their relationship to religion, theology, and the Bible. The authors and editors consider the "interplay between religion" and the novel, which some have seen as rejecting religion, noted a Reference & Research Book News critic. The authors in the collection approach the issue of religion and the novel from a variety of perspectives and offer essays on an array of subjects. Among the topics are the aestheticizing of scripture; Fielding's Tom Jones as Christian comedy; spirituality in the works of John Updike and Richard Ford; the evolution of the Bible from source of unquestioned spiritual teaching to a work of literary merit; Protestantism and the Bible; Methodism in Wuthering Heights; and more. Knight also contributed to the book, and his "own essay demonstrates the extent of theological interest to be found in Dickens's ostensibly secular periodical All the Year Round," noted Elisabeth Jay in the Modern Language Review.

In Nineteenth-Century Religion and Literature: An Introduction, written with Emma Mason, Knight looks at the interconnections between literature and religion from the end of the eighteenth century to the turn of the nineteenth century. The authors provide details on relevant religious movements of the periods, focusing largely on British Christianity. They examine how particular religious ideas are found relative to a selection of literary texts of the time. They look at religious events and ideas such as Protestant dissent, the rise of Methodism, the influence of Unitarians, the Oxford Movement and its aftermath, evangelical Christianity, and secularization; and the role of Roman Catholic writers at the end of the nineteenth century. They note that it was often the contemporary writers of the nineteenth century who helped spark interest in religion and renewed adherence to Christian ideals. "With its goal of introducing readers to a wide range of texts over a long period, this book's strength is not to be found in detailed or sustained analysis," commented William R. McKelvy in a Victorian Studies review. "This nicely compact study makes a handy reference for either introductory courses in the nineteenth century or more advanced studies," observed Nadine Cooper, writing in English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920. In the end, the book's "main purpose is to question where theological debate and discourse stands throughout the century," Cooper remarked. Knight and Mason's work "does a fine job explaining how religion was the inspiration for or subject of a great deal of writing in a period that featured an extraordinarily expanded market for print," stated McKelvy.



Christianity and Literature, summer, 2006, Ian Boyd, review of Chesterton and Evil, p. 611.

Contemporary Review, summer, 2007, review of Biblical Religion and the Novel, 1700-2000, p. 271.

English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920, spring, 2006, G.A. Cevasco, review of Chesterton and Evil, p. 221; spring, 2008, Nadine Cooper, review of Nineteenth-Century Religion and Literature: An Introduction, p. 238.

Modern Language Review, July, 2007, Elisabeth Jay, review of Biblical Religion and the Novel, 1700-2000, p. 824; April, 2008, William Baker, review of Nineteenth-Century Religion and Literature, p. 517.

Reference & Research Book News, November, 2006, review of Biblical Religion and the Novel, 1700-2000.

Victorian Studies, winter, 2008, William R. McKelvy, review of Nineteenth-Century Religion and Literature, p. 324.


Roehampton University Web site, (August 11, 2008), biography of Mark Knight.

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