Bampton Lectures, 11 & 18 May 2021




Bampton Lectures 2021 - Four-Dimensional Eucharist


We are livestreaming the Bampton Lectures on our YouTube channel.

This year, the lectures are delivered by The Revd Canon Dr Jessica Martin, Residentiary Canon for Learning and Outreach at Ely Cathedral and author of Holiness and Desire (2020), which considers the roots of human desire and the consequences of its modern commodification.

Dr Martin’s title for this year’s Bampton Lectures is Four-Dimensional Eucharist. She will be thinking about the eucharist both as sacrament and as ritual theatre, and asking some unusual questions of it.  She will be considering its physicality in a time of increasing online presence, the abiding Christian tension between presence and absence it already contains, and its efficacy in a modern culture which veers unstably between scepticism and enchantment.  Her range of reference will be wide, reaching from fantasy genres and virtual reality to Eucharistic theology and the anthropology of ritual.


11 May 2021

Lecture 1: The Point of the Eucharist - 10am

A point situates perspective; it gives a focus. This lecture asks how the concept of ‘sacrament’ can work in a culture which may choose to strip symbols of their power on a more or less arbitrary basis. It goes on to ponder the story behind Eucharist as one which anticipates such stripping in the divine value it assigns to the weak, the broken and the doomed.


Lecture 2: Flat Eucharist: Schemes and Screens - 11.30am

This session thinks about the different 2D modes and conventions upon which we rely for our access to the Eucharist.  It considers the linear nature of ‘argument’ for making Eucharistic meaning, and its limitations.  It looks at the conventions of written, printed liturgy, at how the technology of the page filters, orders and confines what happens.  Informed by the recent experience of the pandemic, it discusses screened Eucharists as technologically-enabled representations which may - or may not - falter on the threshold between communion and its simulation.


18 May 2021

Lecture 1: The Eucharist as Theatre: Place and Space - 10am

This session thinks about ‘place’ as it plays out in a piece of ritual theatre constructed partly around absence – how vital physical gathering and genuine communal eating might (or might not) be for the realised Eucharistic drama of communal feast and remembered loss.  It considers the ways that liturgy makes things happen, as an event in a particular space with particular performers. It asks how ‘real’ representation can become if we are physically absent from one another, and what influence the deniability of symbolic acts has on our ambivalent relationship to acts of communion. 


Lecture 2: The Eucharist in Timee – 11.30am

This session asks about the nature of memory in Eucharistic action - not only in its bringing together of Jesus’s fleshly present with our own, but in the smaller and more particular meetings of personal past and present which happen for worshippers.  It thinks about the meetings and partings, the presences and absences, of private lives and loves, which are part of the power of liturgical reiteration. It finishes by pondering what is different, and what the same, between the connections of love set up in non-eucharistic memorials or records of the vanished past and the relationship which Eucharistic liturgy establishes between loss and meeting. 


You can listen to an interview between the Revd Dr William Lamb, Vicar of the University Church, and the Revd Canon Dr Jessica Martin about her upcoming lectures here:


University Church YouTube channel:


For other information:

Available also on OxTalks