Kythe Letitia Heller
Comparative Studies, Literary Studies and the Arts,
Religious Thought (Philosophy and Theology)
Kythe Heller is a writer, interdisciplinary artist, and doctoral candidate at Harvard University under the Committee on the Study of Religion. Her interdisciplinary work interweaves Comparative Studies in Religion, Literary Studies and the Arts, Religious Thought (Philosophy and Theology), and Social Sciences (Anthropology, Ethnography, and Political Science). She is an alumnus of the PhD Secondary Field in Critical Media Practice at Harvard University and she holds an MDiv from Harvard Divinity School, an MFA in Poetry from Sarah Lawrence College, and a BA in English Literature from Reed College. Her dissertation, titled Sublime Frequencies: Mysticism, Sound, and the Poetics of Unsaying, develops a socially-engaged metaphysics of sound through comparative case studies of contemporary mystics and artists from diverse traditions whose work responds to pressing concerns of ecological destruction, human rights, and cultural homogenization. In 2017, she founded Vision Lab, an international arts and research collective in the future of the human spirit, based at Harvard Divinity School and creating collaborative artistic and literary works, performances, research collaborations, and other innovative spaces of engagement to address contemporary spirituality, social and environmental justice, science and technology, and literary and artistic practice.
She is author of several critical studies, including “An Ethnography of Spirituality” in Arvo Pärt’s White Light: Media, Culture, Politics (Cambridge UP), “Living Backwards: Cecilia Vicuña’s Fleshly Language of Unsaying” in Quo Anima: Innovation and Spirituality in Contemporary Poetry (Akron Series in Contemporary Poetics), and “The Heart Receptive of Every Form: Representations of Fire in the Mirâj-Nâmeh (1436) manuscript” (Harvard Divinity School Graduate Journal). She is also author of the poetry collection Firebird (Arrowsmith), nominated for the Massachusetts Book Award, a hybrid book of text, photographs, and ritual performance titled Rite of Spring (with Meghan McNeally & partially published by BBP Gallerie), two poetry chapbooks, Immolation (Monk Honey) and Thunder Perfect Mind (Wick: Harvard Divinity School), and "In Memorium," an elegy anthologized in One Nation, Indivisible: Seeking Liberty and Justice from the Pulpit to the Streets (Wipf and Stock Publishers). Poetry and essays have been published widely, in The American Poetry Review, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, The Southern Review, Denver Quarterly, and elsewhere.
Her multimedia, film, and performance work has been exhibited at Harvard's Sackler Museum, Harvard Carpenter Center, Harvard Film Studies Center, Harvard Woodberry Poetry Room, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard Divinity School, Bard College, Sonoma State University, BAX (Brooklyn), WAXworks (Brooklyn), SEEDS Festival at Earthdance (MA), and Creative Okanagan (BC, Canada).
She has received fellowships, awards, and grants from Harvard University, Harvard Divinity School, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, The Mellon Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (grant award to support writing fellowship in poetry at The MacDowell Colony), Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Vermont Studio Center, Earthdance, and Squaw Valley Writers Conference. External links: kytheheller.com and visionlabcollective.com.