Jane Shaw

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Jane Shaw
Born 1963 (age 55–56)
Norwich, United Kingdom
Alma mater University of Oxford, M.A.
Harvard University, M.Div.
U.C. Berkeley, PhD.
Occupation Historian, Anglican priest

Jane Alison Shaw (born 1963) is Principal of Harris Manchester College, Oxford, Professor of the History of Religion, and Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the University of Oxford.[1] Previously she was Professor of Religious Studies and Dean of Religious Life at Stanford University.[2][3]

Life and career

Jane Shaw grew up in Norwich, England, on the grounds of the Great Hospital, a medieval hospital with its own chapel and cloisters where her father was master.[4][5][6] She attended Norwich High School for Girls, an independent school. She studied modern history at Regent's Park College, Oxford, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in 1985: as per tradition, her BA was promoted to a Master of Arts (MA Oxon) in 1991.[7] She went on to study theology at Harvard University, graduating with a Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree in 1988.[8] She completed a PhD in history at the University of California, Berkeley (1994).[9] She has received honorary doctorates from the Episcopal Divinity School and Colgate University.[9] In 2013, Shaw gave the baccalaureate address at Colgate University.[10]

Shaw taught history and theology at Oxford University for sixteen years.[6] She was a fellow of Regent's Park College from 1994 to 2001 (Dean 1998–2001), and then Official Fellow and Dean of Divinity of New College, Oxford (2001–2010).[11] Having trained in the St Albans and Oxford Ministry Course, she was ordained deacon in 1997 and priest in 1998.[11] Shaw was Dean of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, from 2010 to 2014.

Shaw has held appointments as an honorary chaplain and honorary canon of Christ Church, Oxford, Director of the Oxford University Summer Programme in Theology, and Canon Theologian of Salisbury Cathedral, a new post created in 2007 to assist the bishop and cathedral chapter in their theological reflections.[11][12] She served as a governor of a British boys' public school, Winchester College.[13]


Shaw's interests include the Enlightenment, modern religious history, ethics, and issues in gender and sexuality. She has published several books, including Miracles in Enlightenment England (Yale University Press, 2006), Octavia, Daughter of God (Jonathan Cape, 2011), and A Practical Christianity (SPCK, 2012). She edited Culture and the Nonconformist Tradition (with Alan Kreider; Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1999) and The Call for Women Bishops (with Harriet Harris; afterword by Marilyn McCord Adams; London: SPCK, 2004).

Shaw's academic writing focuses on lived religion, which Robert Orsi describes as "the volatile and unpredictable nature of religious creation".[14][15] "Miracles in Enlightenment England" showed how the experience of miracles in Enlightenment England challenged the elites.[16][17] Her book "Octavia Daughter of God" won the 2012 San Francisco Book Festival History Prize, sponsored by JM Northern Media LLC.[17][18] It unearthed the story of a female Messiah figure living in Bedford, England in the early twentieth century.[19] The book was praised for showing how, and under what circumstances, a religion grows.[20][21][22]

Shaw's work often appeals to doubt and the questioning of faith, saying, "If we think faith is about certainty then we can become arrogant and think we know God wholly and that is very limiting."[6] Themes of loss, doubt, and forgiveness are explored in A Practical Christianity. She also focusses on art and spirituality, and what she calls "the moral imagination", which she describes as "a deep responsiveness to that which is different from us".[23][24] In The Mystical Turn, a series of five programmes on BBC Radio 3, Shaw explored the relationship between spirituality and mysticism in the works of Russian artist Kandinsky and his contemporaries.[25][26]


Shaw has combined the work of a church historian with active participation in the life of the Anglican churches and campaigning for the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate.[6][27] She served as vice-chair of WATCH Women and the Church.[28] She regularly writes for The Times[29][30][31][32][33] and the Guardian on issues pertaining to politics, religion, and the arts.[34][35][36][37][38][39] Shaw was an original member of a thinktank, the Chicago Consultation, advocating for LGBT Christians, and she has worked with V-Day on behalf of women who are victims of violence.[40][41][42] In 2013, she joined the Board of the NGO Human Rights Watch in California.[43]


  1. ^ "Stanford's Jane Shaw to be the new Principal of Harris Manchester College, Oxford | Harris Manchester College". www.hmc.ox.ac.uk. Retrieved 2018-02-28.
  2. ^ "Jane Shaw, Department of Religious Studies". Stanford University. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  3. ^ "Dean of Grace Cathedral to become Stanford dean for religious life". Stanford Report. Stanford University. 22 July 2014. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
  4. ^ "Masters of the Great Hospital" (PDF).
  5. ^ Phillips 1999, p. 44
  6. ^ a b c d May, Meredith (30 March 2013). "Very Rev. Jane Shaw, Grace Cathedral Dean". San Francisco Chronicle.
  7. ^ "Jane Alison Shaw". Crockford's Clerical Directory (online ed.). Church House Publishing. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  8. ^ "Slideshow:Jane Shaw, MDiv '88, Speaks at HDS". Harvard Divinity School. 13 March 2012. Retrieved 20 August 2014.
  9. ^ a b "Jane Shaw, Department of History". University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved 16 August 2014.
  10. ^ "The Very Reverend Dr. Jane Shaw delivers baccalaureate address". news.colgate.edu. 19 May 2013. Retrieved 20 August 2014.
  11. ^ a b c "Jane Alison Shaw". Crockford's Clerical Directory (online ed.). Church House Publishing. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  12. ^ "Salisbury Cathedral's Canon Theologian". salisburycathedral.org.uk. 25 June 2010. Archived from the original on 26 August 2014. Retrieved 20 August 2014.
  13. ^ "Winchester College Annual Report" (PDF).
  14. ^ Reckson, Lindsay (12 January 2012). "Back to the Garden: Jane Shaw's "Octavia Daughter of God"". Los Angeles Review of Books. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  15. ^ Ingram, Robert G. (December 2007). "Miracles in Enlightenment England". Anglican and Episcopal History. www.questia.com. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  16. ^ Jenkins, Ellen (October 2007). "Jane Shaw 'Miracles in Enlightenment England'". The Journal of British Studies. Cambridge Journals Online. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  17. ^ a b "Miracles in Enlightenment England". Yale University Press. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  18. ^ "Litquake Celebrating 15 Years". Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  19. ^ Twells, A. (February 2013). "Jane Shaw. Octavia, Daughter of God". The American Historical Review. oxfordjournals.org. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  20. ^ Ridley, Jane (6 June 2011). "Paradise in Bedford". Literary Review. Archived from the original on 19 October 2011. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  21. ^ Stanford, Peter (3 June 2011). "Octavia, Daughter of God: The Story of a Female Messiah and Her Followers by Jane Shaw – review". The Observer. London: Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  22. ^ Carey, John (29 May 2011). "Octavia, Daughter of God by Jane Shaw – review". Sunday Times. London: Times Newspapers Limited. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  23. ^ Zurcher, Ariane (3 June 2012). "Ideas that make a difference at the Aspen Ideas Festival". Huffington Post. Retrieved 28 August 2014.
  24. ^ "Jane Shaw Reminds Us to Develop Moral Imaginations". Aspen Idea Blog. 1 November 2012. Retrieved 28 August 2014.
  25. ^ "The Essay". BBC Radio 3. 20 May 2011. Retrieved 28 August 2014.
  26. ^ "The Mystical Turn". radiolistings.co.uk. 16 May 2011. Retrieved 28 August 2014.
  27. ^ Beeson 2011, p. 259
  28. ^ "WATCH news and events". Archived from the original on 11 September 2014. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  29. ^ "After 70 Years, it's high time for action on women priests". The Times. 1 February 2014. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  30. ^ The Times (25 May 2013). "The shock of the new signaled a real spiritual revolution in art". Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  31. ^ "The heart's antique urge to believe without belonging". The Times. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  32. ^ "After all the excitement it takes time for reality to sink in". The Times. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  33. ^ "Start the new year by committing to see the world anew". The Times. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  34. ^ "Face to faith". the Guardian. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  35. ^ "God, love and the terrorists". the Guardian. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  36. ^ "Men, women, and difference". Churchtimes.co.uk. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  37. ^ "Thinking Anglicans: Men, women, and difference". Thinkinganglicans.org.uk. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  38. ^ "When the C of E wanted to talk". Churchtimes.co.uk. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  39. ^ "Thinking Anglicans: General Convention revisited". Thinkinganglicans.org.uk. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  40. ^ "The Chicago Consultation / Context of BO33". YouTube. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  41. ^ "Steering Committee " Chicago Consultation". Chicagoconsultation.org. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  42. ^ ""I Am Rising...": Jane Shaw, San Francisco". YouTube. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  43. ^ "California Committee North – Human Rights Watch". Hrw.org. Retrieved 5 October 2014.

Selected publications

External links

  • Profile at Harris Manchester College website
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