Photos: (top left) After ordination to Priesthood 8/23 at Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, NY; (top right) at 75th anniversary of Holy Trinity Seminary, Jordanville, NY; (middle) community Bible Study at Bucknell University Barnes & Noble Bookstore, summer 2023; (bottom) groundbreaking for new St. John’s Russian Orthodox Christian Church temple in Winfield, PA, 10/23.
Father Paul Siewers, Ph.D.
Preferred Pronouns: Thee, Thou, Thine
Unworthily I a sinner am a country priest and literature professor, a native of Chicago now living in northern Appalachia. My academic interests include Christian literature and apologetic theology; the Bible and literature; the writings of John Scottus Eriugena and S.L. Frank; Chaucer, the Sidneys, and Spenser; James Fenimore and Susan Fenimore Cooper, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Alexander Solzhenitsyn, among others; Christian ecopoetics and ecosemiotics; public rhetoric and journalism; and critical totalitarian studies. I am a priest in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, attached to the local mission Church of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco in Lewisburg-Winfield, PA, which also serves the Bucknell University community where I teach and am adviser to the campus Orthodox Christian community. At Bucknell University, I am associate professor of Literature at Bucknell, where I also serve on the President’s Sustainability Council, currently coordinating the Bucknell Greenway project, and direct the Bucknell Program for American Leadership. My award-winning journalistic work has included serving as Urban Affairs Writer for the Chicago Sun-Times and as a National Correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor. In 2018-2019 I was William E. Simon Visiting Fellow in Religion and Public Life at the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University, and am a member of the James Madison Society at Princeton. I am recipient of the Presidential Award for Teaching Excellence at Bucknell, and also the American Freedom Prize, Lincoln, and “Culture, Constitution, and Connections” Awards of the Open Discourse Coalition, and am a past recipient of various journalism prizes for my writing and reporting.
Diploma in Pastoral Theology, St. John of Kronstadt Pastoral School, Archdiocese of the Midwest, Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, 2018. Thesis: John Scottus Eriugena in Context: Heretic or Last of the Latin Church Fathers?
Ph.D., English, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2001. Thesis: Stories of the Land: Nature and Religion in Early British and Irish Literary Landscapes. Re-written, this formed a basis for my book Strange Beauty: Ecocritical Approaches to Early Medieval Landscape (Palgrave, 2009).
M.A., English, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1996.
M.A., Early British Studies, University of Wales at Aberystwyth, 1993. Thesis: “A Cloud of Witnesses”: The Origins of Glastonbury Abbey in the Context of Early Christianity in Western Britain. This formed a basis for my shorter publication “Gildas and Glastonbury: Revisiting the Origins of Glastonbury Abbey,” in Via Crucis: Essays on Early Medieval Sources and Ideas in Memory of J. E. Cross, ed. Thomas N. Hall, Thomas D. Hill, and Charles D. Wright. Morgantown: West Virginia University Press, 2002. 423-432.
M.S.J., Journalism, Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University, 1982.
B.A., History, Brown University, 1981.
Priest, Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, 2023-
Deacon, Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, 2020-2023.
Subdeacon, Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, 2019-2020.
Adviser, Bucknell Orthodox Christian Fellowship, 2003 to the present.
President of the Media Council, Holy Orthodox Order of St. George the Great-Martyr, 2019 to 2023.
Reader, Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, 2017 to 2019.
Warden, St. John of Shanghai Russian Orthodox Mission Church, 2015-2020.
Educational and Academic Offices and Awards
William E. Simon Research Fellow in Religion and Public Life, James Madison Program, Princeton University, 2018-2019.
Director, Bucknell Program for American Leadership and Citizenship, 2017 to the present.
Member, James Madison Society, Princeton, 2019 to the present.
Culture, Constitution, and Connections Award; Open Discourse Coalition, 2023.
Lincoln Prize, Open Discourse Coalition, 2022.
American Freedom Prize, Open Discourse Coalition, 2021.
Presidential Award for Teaching Excellence, Bucknell University, 2008.
English Department Chair and Director of Literary Studies, Bucknell University, Lewisburg PA, 2015-2018.
Steering Committee Member, Environmental Studies Department, Bucknell University, 2014- 2019.
Co-Editor, Stories of the Susquehanna Valley book series and digital projects, 2010-2021.
Associate Professor of Literature, Bucknell University, 2009 to the present.
Founder and First Coordinator, Environmental Humanities Initiative (now the Place Studies Program), Bucknell Center for Sustainability and the Environment, 2008-2010.
Visiting Researcher, Early Irish Department, University College Cork, 2007.
Peter Lisagor Awards for Outstanding Analysis and Reporting, 1988-1990.
Associated Press Awards for Journalism, 1988-90.
“From Eriugena to Dostoevsky: Christian ‘Universalism’ in Hiberno-Latin Contexts and its Continued Significance.” In Sources of Knowledge: Studies in Old English and Anglo-Latin Literature in Honour of Charles D. Wright (Brepols, forthcoming, 2023).
“Ecosemiotics in Early Irish Lyrics.” In Scél lem dúib: Gerard Murphy’s Early Irish Lyrics Revisited (collection under review by University College Cork Press).
“Sobornost in the Orthodox Church and Rights in Today’s Virtual Global West,” an invited essay in The Egocentrism of Human Rights? Reflections with Christos Yannaras on the Polis and Ecclesia, based on a conference at Ohio State University’s Bioethics Center, March 2023. Volume in progress.
“Nature.” In The Chaucer Encyclopedia. Ed. Richard Neuhauser, Vincent Gillespie, Jessica Rosenfeld, and Katie Walker. London: Wiley-Blackwell. 2023.
“Orthodox Marriage on Middle-earth.” In Amid Weeping there is Joy: Orthodox Perspectives on Tolkien’s Fantastic Realm. Ed. Cyril Gary Jenkins. Invited contribution to edited book collection. Emmaus, PA: St. Basil Center for Orthodox Thought and Culture, Basilian Media and Publishing. 2021.
“’Well, I’m back,’ he said. Tolkien, Loneliness, and The Decline of the West.” In Amid Weeping there is Joy: Orthodox Perspectives on Tolkien’s Fantastic Realm. Ed. Cyril Gary Jenkins. Invited contribution to edited book collection. Emmaus, PA: St. Basil Center for Orthodox Thought and Culture, Basilian Media and Publishing. 2021.
“Transhuman Totalitarianism versus Christian Theosis: From Russian Orthodoxy with Love.” Journal of Christian Bioethics 26 (2020): 325-344.
Co-Editor, Healing Humanity: Confronting Our Moral Crisis. Holy Trinity Publications, 2020. Author of “ICXC NIKA: The Liberty of Theosis” in the collection, pp. 92-112.
“Eriugena’s Irish Backgrounds.” Invited contribution to the Brill Companion to Eriugena, ed, Stephen Lahey and Adrian Guiu. Brill, 2019.
Co-Editor, The Totalitarian Legacy of the Bolshevik Revolution. Lexington Books, 2019.
Co-Producer, “Stories of the Susquehanna Valley” student documentary series: Stories of the Susquehanna: Utopian Dreams aired on public TV station WVIA in spring 2016. The Coopers and Conservation at the Susquehanna Headwaters in November 2018. Churches of Coal Country and Bucknell in the Civil War and Underground Railroad, in post-production.
“A Geography of the Imagination: James Fenimore and Susan Fenimore Cooper’s Regional Legacy.” In The James Fenimore Cooper Society Journal 28 (2017): 39-44.
Co-Editor, Glory and Honor: Orthodox Christian Resources on Marriage.
St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2016. Author in the collection of “Mystagogical, Cosmological, and Counter-Cultural: Contemporary Orthodox Apologetics for Marriage,” pp. 353-94.
Editor, Re-Imagining Nature: Environmental Humanities and Ecosemiotics. Bucknell Press, 2014. Includes my essays, “Introduction — Song, Tree, and Spring: Environmental Meaning and Environmental Humanities,” 1-44; and, “The Ecopoetics of Creation: Genesis LXX 1-3,” 45-78. .
“The Periphyseon, the Irish ‘Otherworld,’ and Early Medieval Nature.” In Eriugena and Creation, ed. W. Otten and M. Allen. Brepols, 2014.
“The Green Otherworlds of Early Medieval Literature.” In The Cambridge Companion to Environmental Literature, ed. Louise Westling. Cambridge, 2013.
“Orthodoxy and Ecopoetics: The Green World in the Desert Sea.” In Toward an Ecology of Transfiguration: Orthodox Christian Perspectives on Environment, Nature, and Creation, ed. John Chryssavgis and Bruce V. Foltz. Fordham University Press, 2013.
“Cooper, Coleridge, and Re-Imagining a Native Cosmology,” in James Fenimore Cooper: His Country and His Art, no. 18. Ed. Steven Harthorn and Hugh MacDougall. SUNY Oneonta, 2013. 114-120.
“The Early Irish Sublime as Reflection of Sophia,” in Beauty and the Beautiful in Eastern Christian Culture, ed. Natalia Ermolaev, Theotokos Press 2012. 212-224.
“Desert Islands: Europe’s Atlantic Archipelago as Ascetic Landscape.” In Studies in the Medieval Atlantic, ed. Benjamin Hudson. Palgrave Macmillan’s New Middle Ages series, 2012. 35-64.
“Ecopoetics and the Origins of English Literature.” In Environmental Criticism for the Twenty-First Century, ed. Stephanie LeMenager, Teresa Shewry and Ken Hiltner. Routledge, 2011. 105-130.
“Pre-Modern Ecosemiotics: The Green World As Literary Ecology.” In The Space of Culture-The Place of Nature in Estonia and Beyond, ed. Tiina Peil. University of Tartu Press, 2011.
Strange Beauty: Ecocritical Approaches to Early Medieval Landscape (Palgrave, 2009).
“Cooper’s Green World: Adapting Ecosemiotics to the Mythic Eastern Woodlands.” In James Fenimore Cooper, His Country and His Art, ed. Hugh MacDougall (Oneonta and Cooperstown, NY: SUNY Oneonta and Cooper Society, 2009).
“Environmentalist Readings of Tolkien.” In The Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment, ed. Michael D.C. Drout. New York and London: Routledge, 2006. 166-67.
“Landscapes of Conversion: Guthlac’s Mound and Grendel’s Mere as Expressions of Anglo-Saxon Nation-building.” Viator 34 (2003): 1-39. Revised and reprinted in The Postmodern Beowulf: A Critical Casebook, ed. Eileen A. Joy, Mary K. Ramsey, and Bruce D. Gilchrist. Morgantown, WV: West Virginia University Press, 2006.
Co-Editor, Tolkien’s Modern Middle Ages (Palgrave, 2005). Author in the collection of “Tolkien’s Cosmic-Christian Ecology: The Medieval Underpinnings.” 139-154.
“Gildas and Glastonbury: Revisiting the Origins of Glastonbury Abbey.” In Via Crucis: Essays on Early Medieval Sources and Ideas in Memory of J. E. Cross, ed. Thomas N. Hall, Thomas D. Hill, and Charles D. Wright. Morgantown: West Virginia University Press, 2002. 423-432.
Selected Recent Presentations and Interviews
“Into the Woods: American and Russian Traditions of Nature,” at the Society for Nature Philosophy and Religion session of the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy annual conference, Toronto, 10/13/23
On The Light of the World Podcast of Holy Trinity Publications, posted 8/3/23
On Orthodox Squad Podcast, Orthodox Meme Squad, posted 1/20/23
“The Compleat Angler on Penns Creek,” given at the Keystone Coldwater Conference. State College, PA, Feb. 26, 2022.
“Converts to Orthodox Christianity in America in the Russian Church Today.” Links between Times: Conclusions and Perspectives on the Centennial of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad Conference. Belgrade, Serbia. Nov. 25, 2021.
“Ecosemiotics in Early Irish Lyrics.” Scél lem dúib: Gerard Murphy’s Early Irish Lyrics Revisited: A Symposium to Celebrate the 65th Anniversary of the Publication of the Anthology. (Also commemorating the 1500th anniversary of the birth of Saint Columcille). University College Cork, Department of Early and Medieval Irish. Friday, Oct. 29, 2021.
“Dostoevsky’s ‘Back to the Soil'(Pochvennichestvo) : Its Christian Significance.” Nature Philosophy and Religion Society, Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy annual conference. Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021.
Selected Public Writing, 2000-
“The West Can’t Even Understand Why Russia Sees It as a Threat.” The Federalist, Sept. 2, 2022.
“How Faculty Put a Stake in the Heart of Free Speech at Bucknell,” Princetonians for Free Speech, March 3, 2022.
“How Alumni Established a Beachhead for Open Discourse on Bucknell’s Campus,” The Federalist, July 6, 2021
“Academic Settler Culture,” First Things, June 16, 2021
“How The Man in the High Castle Actually Reveals America’s Totalitarian Trends,” The Federalist, Dec. 5, 2019
“What Christians Face in a Neo-Marxist World,” The American Conservative, April 28, 2019
“The Orwellian Dangers of the ‘Equality Act.’” Public Discourse, April 24, 2019
“How Christian Science Became a Dying Religion.” The Federalist, April 11, 2019
“Why does the Left Suspend their Principles for Christian Minorities?” The Federalist, Jan. 22, 2019
“The Boy Scouts’ Bankruptcy is not just Financial. It’s Moral.” The Federalist, Jan. 2, 2019
“Remembering the Jonestown Massacre.” Public Discourse, Nov. 18, 2018
“Communists Brutally Murdered Russia’s Last Royal Family 100 Years Ago Today.” The Federalist, July 17, 2018
“What I Learned about American Culture by Binging on Gunsmoke and House of Cards.” The Federalist, June 22, 2017
“Political Diversity Among the Faculty.” The Counterweight, April 23, 2015
“Metropolitan Harmony.” Illinois Issues, April 2000
Selected Past Presentations
— “St. Sergius and the Language of Creation,” Holy Trinity Seminary conference on St. Sergius of Radonezh. Oct. 23, 2014.
–Talks on ecosemiotics and on Tolkien, Rice University medieval studies program, March 2014.
–“Ecosemiotics and Patristics,” Florovsky Symposium, Princeton Theological Seminary, Feb. 2014.
–“Trees in Medieval Symbolism,” and “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Ecocriticism,” International Medieval Congress at Kalamazoo, May 2013.
–“Eriugena and Ecocriticism,” Medieval Academy of America, in absentia due to illness, April 2013.
–“Eriugena on Scripture,” Florovsky Symposium, Princeton Theological Seminary, Feb. 2013.
–“Florensky on Marriage,” Sophia Institute, Union Theological Seminary, Dec. 2012.
–“Memory and Nature in Dante and Dostoevsky,” Nature Philosophy and Religion Society, International Environmenal Philosophical Association at the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy, Nov. 2012.
–“Coleridge and Bulgakov: Christian Perspectives on Sustainability,” Orthodox Theological Society of America, Sept. 2012.
–“Bulgakov, Florensky and Marriage: New Articulations of Ancient Traditions.” Sophia Institute, Union Theological Seminary, Dec. 2012.
–“Memory in Dante and Dostoevsky.” Society for Nature, Philosophy, and Religion conference, Rochester Institute of Technology, Nov. 2012.
–“Trees,” Eco-Materialism round table, International Medieval Congress, Kalamazoo, MI, May 2012.
–“The Early Medieval Sublime.” Sophia Institute, Union Theological Seminary. Dec. 2, 2011.
–“Green Worlds and Ecosemiotics.” University of Virginia Medieval Studies program. Nov. 21, 2011.
–“From Cú Chulainn to Cordell Walker: The Ranger ‘Mans Up’ to Cosmic Marriage.” Bucknell Women’s Studies and CSREG Masculinity Series. Nov. 16, 2011.
–“Christian Perspectives on American Nature: The Dissenting Views of James Feniomre and Susan Fenimore Cooper.” Society for Nature, Philosophy, and Religion, of the International Environmental Philosophy Association at the Society for Phenomenlogy and Existential Philosophy. Oct. 24, 2011.
–“Cooper, Coleridge, and Re-Imagining a Native Cosmology,” SUNY Oneonta Cooper conference, 18th James Feminore Cooper Conference and Seminar, July 12, 2011.
–“The Ecosemiosphere: Story and Region in Early Insular Medieval Literature.” Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment biannual conference. June 23, 2011.
–“Cooper, Coleridge and Priestley: Shaping American Ecopoetics on the Susquehanna Frontier.” John Burroughs and American Nature Writing Conference, SUNY Oneonta. June 6 2010.
–“Ecocriticism,” Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute, George Washington University. Jan. 29, 2010.
–“Early Ecosemiotics: The Green World as Literary Ecology,” at Centre of Excellence in Cultural Theory Conference: Spatiality, memory and visualisation of culture/nature relationships: theoretical aspects.” Tallinn University, Estonia. Oct. 21, 2009.
–“Ecosemiotics and Ecocriticism,” Tartu University, Department of Semiotics seminar, Estonia. Oct. 25, 2009.
–“Cooper’s Green World: Eco Semiotics of Adapted European Tradition,” at 17th James Fenimore Cooper Conference and Seminar, SUNY Oneonta. July 14, 2009.
–“Desert Islands: Europe’s Atlantic Archipelago as Ascetic Landscape,” Pennsylvania State University Medieval Conference on “The Atlantic Middle Ages.” March 28, 2009.
–“Body as Place,” Comparative Humanities Review Conference on “Place and Body,” Bucknell University. March 27, 2009.
–“An Ecocritical Reading of the ‘Green World’ motif in The Canterbury Tales and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” 15th International Medieval Congress, Leeds, UK, July 2008, on The Natural World.
–“Eriugena, Iconographic Intertextuality, and the Otherworld,” 42nd International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo MI, May 2007.
Founding Co-Convener, Bucknell Faculty Staff Christian Association, 2014 to the present.
Urban Affairs Writer, Chicago Sun-Times, 1989-1992. Received three Peter Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism (two for individual work, one as part of team coverage) while a staff writer at the Sun-Times, among other journalism awards.
National Correspondent, The Christian Science Monitor, 1988.