Jane Shaw speaking at the Aspen Ideas Festival in 2012
Norwich, United Kingdom
|Alma mater||University of Oxford, M.A.
Harvard University, M.Div.
U.C. Berkeley, PhD.
|Occupation||historian, Anglican priest|
Life and career
Jane Shaw grew up in Norwich, England, on the grounds of The Great Hospital, a medieval hospital with its own chapel and cloisters where her father was Master. She attended Norwich High School for Girls, before reading modern history at Regent's Park College, University of Oxford (BA 1985, MA 1991) and theology at Harvard University (MDiv 1988). She completed a PhD in history at the University of California, Berkeley (1994). She has received honorary doctorates from the Episcopal Divinity School and Colgate University. In 2013, Shaw gave the Baccalaureate Address at Colgate University.
Shaw taught history and theology at Oxford University for sixteen years. She was a fellow of Regent's Park College from 1994 to 2001 (Dean 1998-2001), and then Official Fellow and Dean of Divinity of New College, Oxford (2001-2010). Having trained on the St Albans and Oxford Ministry Course, she was ordained deacon in 1997 and priest in 1998. Shaw was Dean of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, from 2010 to 2014.
Shaw has held appointments as Honorary Chaplain and Honorary Canon of Christ Church, Oxford, Director of the Oxford University Summer Programme in Theology, and Canon Theologian of Salisbury Cathedral, a new post created in 2007 to assist the Bishop and Cathedral Chapter in their theological reflections. She served as a Governor of the British public boys' school, Winchester College.
Shaw's interests include the Enlightenment, modern religious history, ethics, and issues in gender and sexuality. She has published several books, including Miracles in Enlightenment England (Yale University Press, 2006), Octavia, Daughter of God (Jonathan Cape, 2011), and A Practical Christianity (SPCK, 2012). She edited Culture and the Nonconformist Tradition (with Alan Kreider; Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1999) and The Call for Women Bishops (with Harriet Harris; afterword by Marilyn McCord Adams; London: SPCK, 2004).
Shaw's academic writing focuses on lived religion which Robert Orsi describes as 'the volatile and unpredictable nature of religious creation'. "Miracles in Enlightenment England" showed how the experience of miracles in Enlightenment England challenged the elites. Her book "Octavia Daughter of God" won the 2012 San Francisco Book Festival History Prize, sponsored by JM Northern Media LLC. It unearthed the story of a female Messiah figure living in Bedford, England in the early twentieth century. The book was praised for showing how, and under what circumstances, a religion grows.
Shaw's work often appeals to doubt and questioning of one's faith, 'If we think faith is about certainty then we can become arrogant and think we know God wholly and that is very limiting'. Themes of loss, doubt, and forgiveness are explored in A Practical Christianity. She also focusses on art and spirituality, and what she calls the moral imagination which she describes as 'a deep responsiveness to that which is different from us'. In The Mystical Turn, a series of five programmes on BBC Radio 3, Shaw explored the relationship between spirituality and mysticism in the work of Russian artist Kandinsky and his contemporaries.
Shaw has combined the work of a church historian with active participation in the life of the Anglican Church and much campaigning for the admission of women to the priesthood and the episcopate. She served as vice-chair of WATCH Women and the Church. She regularly writes for The Times and the Guardian on issues pertaining to politics, religion, and the arts. Shaw was an original member of the thinktank, the Chicago Consultation, advocating for LGBT Christians, and she has worked with V-Day on behalf of women who are victims of violence. In 2013, she joined the Board of the NGO Human Rights Watch in California.
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- The Times (25 May 2013). "The shock of the new signaled a real spiritual revolution in art". Retrieved 5 Sep 2014.
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- "The Chicago Consultation / Context of BO33". YouTube. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
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- ""I Am Rising...": Jane Shaw, San Francisco". YouTube. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
- "California Committee North - Human Rights Watch". Hrw.org. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
- Jane Shaw (2006). Miracles in Enlightenment England. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. ISBN 9780300112726.
- Jane Shaw (2011). Octavia, Daughter of God: the story of a female messiah and her followers. London: Jonathan Cape. ISBN 9780224075008.
- Jane Shaw (2012). A Practical Christianity. London: SPCK. ISBN 9780281068166.