David C. Mahan

  • Executive Director, Rivendell Institute at Yale University

  • Co-Director, Rivendell Center for Theology and the Arts

  • Lecturer in Religion and Literature, Yale Institute of Sacred Music, Yale Divinity School


A graduate of Yale Divinity School in religion and literature (1995) and winner of the Religion and the Arts Prize, Dr. Mahan has focused on the relationship between works of the literary imagination and the tasks of Christian theology, teaching classes that offer theological readings of 20th-21st century fiction and poetry, and Christian poetics. His doctoral research at the University of Cambridge specifically explored the connection between poetic form and the witnessing aims of a responsive theological discourse. He published his dissertation under the title “An Unexpected Light”: Theology and Witness in the Poetry and Thought of Charles Williams, Micheal O’Siadhail, and Geoffrey Hill (Princeton Monographs 2009). In addition to numerous papers and book reviews, his essay “‘A summons to try to look, to try to see’” appears as a chapter in the collection Musics of Belonging: The Poetry of Micheal O’Siadhail (2007). His article “Poetry and the Complexities of Remembrance: An Appeal,” appeared in the Autumn 2014 issue of Milin Havivin, and his most recent work “Revised Versions: Poetry as Bible Reading” was published in Christianity and Literature in 2019. Dr. Mahan is currently the Executive Director of the Rivendell Institute at Yale, a Christian research and study center founded in 1995, where he also co-directs the new Rivendell Center for Theology and the Arts. He is a Fellow of Berkeley College, Yale, a long-time member of Yale Religious Ministries, and helps to coordinate numerous literary events and activities around the Yale campus.

Academic biography


Research topics

  • Late-Modern Fiction & Poetry
  • Literature & Theology
  • Christian Poetics

Contributions to GlobalFacultyInitiative.net

Literature and the Moral Urgency of Ambiguity (Disciplinary Brief)
Discipline(s): Fine & Performing Arts
Theology: Virtues

Contemplating Dis-Order: A Literary Perspective (Disciplinary Brief)
Discipline(s): Fine & Performing Arts
Theology: Created Order

Virtues / Fine & Performing Arts (Preview Response)
Discipline(s): Fine & Performing Arts
Theology: Virtues