Professor Gerard Loughlin is a Roman Catholic Professor of Theology and Religion at the University of Durham.

Loughlin’s parents both came from Galway, in the west of Ireland. Although he was born in Liverpool, he spent most of his childhood in the English Midlands. His father was a medical doctor. He entered the University of Wales, Lampeter in 1976, to study for a degree in Theology and English. Reminiscing about his time as an undergraduate, he remembers inflicting very long essays on his tutors in the days before word limits. He was also involved in the Catholic Society. After graduating, he stayed on to take a research MA in English. His thesis was on the novels of Roman Catholic Modernism, published at the turn of the nineteenth century, and his supervisor was Barbara Dennis.  

With the help of Paul Badham, he then successfully applied for a Studentship in Theology at Trinity College, Cambridge, to which he moved in 1980. His doctoral research was on the work of John Hick, then the best known philosopher of religion in the English-speaking world, and a controversial figure, noted for questioning Christian orthodoxy and promoting religious pluralism. Loughlin had four supervisors during his time at Cambridge, the first two also controversial: Bishop John A.T. Robinson of Honest to God fame and the so-called Christian atheist, Don Cupitt. They were followed by Nicholas Lash and Brian Hebblethwaite. Lash advised Loughlin to read Wittgenstein, and after a short time away from Cambridge, in Chicago, Loughlin’s eventual thesis offered a very negative assessment of Hick’s work. 

After this, Loughlin stayed in Cambridge to study for a Postgraduate Certificate in Education at Homerton College. His first job was at St Dominic’s Sixth Form College in Harrow. However, he continued writing articles and applying for academic posts, and was eventually offered a lectureship in religious studies at Newcastle University. Although only a very small department, it offered both BA and MA programmes, and doctoral supervsion. Loughlin was head of department from 1996 to 2001. However, modern universities do not like small departments. In 2004, the department closed and the few remaining members of staff were taken in by the Durham Department of Theology, which became a Department of Theology and Religion, in recognition of the growing importance of religious studies within its provision. (At the same time, a small group of Durham linguists joined the English Department at Newcastle.)  Loughlin has worked at Durham ever since.  

His academic interests have always been interdisciplinary, crossing the borders between theology, philosophy and literary and cultural studies. His first book was Telling God’s story: Bible, church and narrative theology, published by Cambridge University Press in 1996. His aim was to show that theology is ‘the discipline of a practice which is first and last the following of a story: the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.’ Rowan William described the book as a ‘lively and splendidly literate essay on what we might now mean by the authority of Scripture and sacrament … [A] timely, provocative and enjoyable book.’ 

 Loughlin’s next book was Alien sex: the body and desire in cinema and theology, (Blackwell, 2004). For Stanley Hauerwas, the book was ‘absolutely brilliant’. Arthur Bradley nominated it his book of the year (2005) within the field of religious studies, while Kent Brintnall found it ‘standing head and shoulders above the existing literature in the expanding field of religion and film scholarship.’  

Loughlin has edited two books on theology and sexuality. The first of these was Sex these days: essays on theology, sexuality and society, co-edited with Jon Davies (Sheffield Academic Press, 1997). In Queer theology: rethinking the western body (Blackwell, 2007), the contributors reread the Christian tradition from the perspective of queer theory. Loughlin is co-editor of the journal Theology and sexuality (published by Routledge), and an assistant editor of Literature and theology, (published by Oxford University Press). 

Sources 

Deacy, C. (interviewer). (2019, July 15). Nostalgia interviews with Chris Deacy. Gerard Loughlin. [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from https://audioboom.com/posts/7315968-gerard-loughlin 

Loughlin, G. [2019]. After Lampeter: an academic journey. Unpublished manuscript.  

Durham University. (2020). Professor Gerard Loughlin, BA MA (Wales) PhD PGCE (Cambridge). Retrieved June 8 2020, from https://librarydevelopment.group.shef.ac.uk/referencing/apa.html#W 

Brintnall, K. (2006). Alien Sex: The Body and Desire in Cinema and Theology. Film Quarterly, 60(2), 78-78. doi:10.1525/fq.2006.60.2.78.1