O. C. and Patricia Boldt Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Humanities
Established in 1994 by Oscar C. Boldt and his wife Patricia Hamar Boldt, the Boldt chair is offered to a current St. Olaf faculty member whose scholarship and professional endeavors advance the teaching and learning of humanities at the baccalaureate level. Oscar Boldt is chairman of The Boldt Group, Inc., a family-owned consulting and construction firm headquartered in Appleton, Wisconsin since 1889. The Boldt Chair is awarded for terms of three years; prior holders are Diana Postlethwaite (English) Carol Holly (English), James Farrell (History), Edward Langerak (Philosophy), Gordon Marino (Philosophy) and Solveig Zempel (Norwegian).
John Barbour received his Ph.D. in the field of Religion and Literature from the University of Chicago Divinity School. His teaching and research interests center on ethical and theological issues raised by works of fiction and autobiography, for instance their exploration of the nature of sin, grace, or community.
He was Chair of the Religion Department (1998-2001) and served as the first Martin Marty Regents Chair in Religion and the Academy (2004-2008).
John’s scholarly work includes four books: Tragedy as a Critique of Virtue: The Novel and Ethical Reflection (1984), The Conscience of the Autobiographer: Ethical and Religious Dimensions of Autobiography (1992), Versions of Deconversion: Autobiography and the Loss of Faith (1994), and The Value of Solitude: The Ethics and Spirituality of Aloneness in Autobiography (2004).
Work in progress includes a study of the religious dimensions of travel narratives, a family memoir entitled “Family Conscience”, and Renunciation, a novel about new religious movements in the 1970s.