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Le Moyne College

Curriculum Vitae


This project explores skin in four moments and under two aspects. The moments are those of primal humanity, division from divinity or grace, incarnate divinity, and transfigured humanity; the aspects, legibility and boundary. I make use of canonical, Biblical text, Jewish and Christian commentaries, and Gnostic and Kabbalistic texts. The results play both with and against a sort of unquestioned assumption that the perfection of skin is utterly illegible, by virtue of blankness; and utterly bounded. I want to see what happens if, instead, we insist upon the vulnerability (open or shifting boundaries), transience, and legibility of the skin as themselves divine or sacred. I am particularly interested in the ways that the ideas of legibility and boundary play together in a sense of bodily mystery. As mystery cannot be shown without losing itself, what is mysterious can only be known as unknown: by, for instance, its boundary. The skin presents and exposes the body, and thus can be read in the manner of a revelation of mystery, neither altogether known nor not.

Karmen MacKendrick is a professor of philosophy at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY. Her research is interdisciplinary, but centered on philosophical theology and issues of corporeality. Her work on Skin is part of a larger consideration of the complexity and mystery of materiality. She has recently written on the materiality of language (A Matter of Voice, Fordham, 2016 [forthcoming May]), the seductive attractions of theology (Divine Enticement, Fordham 2012), and the strange allure of Augustine of Hippo (Seducing Augustine, with Virginia Burus and Mark Jordan, Fordham 2010).

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