The Self in Verse

Beyond the Threshold – Autobiography, Dialogic Interaction, and Conversion in Gerard Manley Hopkins’s and W. Abdullah Quilliam’s Poetry


  • Martin Kindermann Joseph Carlebach Bildungshaus, Hamburg



Autobiographic Poetry, Conversion, Gerard Manley Hopkins, W. Abdullah Quilliam


The intertwinement of poetic life writing and theological reflections has a long-standing history in British literature. This paper shows how two Victorian poets – Gerard Manley Hopkins and W. Abdullah Quilliam – use dialogic strategies to establish an autobiographic voice, which becomes an essential poetic means of the text. Through the representation of dialogic encounters, the poems establish an autobiographic mode of speaking, which is used to articulate individual conversion experiences and to negotiate conversion as an encounter with God. Based on the works of Martin Buber and Emmanuel Levinas, I will show how a dynamic understanding of text and conversion experience is essential to a reading that seeks to explore the poetic construction of Hopkins’s as well as Quilliam’s works. The representation of the dynamic encounter of the self and the Divine in the contact zone of the text provides a frame in which the authors locate themselves with regard to the religious majority of Victorian Britain. The texts link the spiritual journey of conversion to the self as being caught in the world, responding to God’s call as an answer to the world’s condition.

Author Biography

Martin Kindermann, Joseph Carlebach Bildungshaus, Hamburg

Martin Kindermann studied English, North American, and Russian literature at Hamburg University. He holds a PhD in English literature. From 2014 to 2016 he was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School for Literary Studies at the Free University Berlin. He was a postdoc research fellow at Hamburg University, as well as a lecturer at the Leuphana University Lueneburg. Currently he works as an English teacher and a freelance translator of British television programmes for various German TV stations. Kindermann has published on questions of religion and literature, post-coloniality, interculturality and their literary representations, as well as Anglo-Jewish and Anglo-Muslim Writing. He is a member of the Literary London Society and an author in the Literary London Journal.





The Self in Verse