Born in 1989 in Toronto, Cyril L. Caspar was mainly raised in Switzerland, which included, however, some secondary schooling in the United States. He holds both a B.A. (2010) and an M.A. (2013) in English Linguistics and Literature as well as in Systematic and Practical Theology from the University of Zurich. During his M.A. studies, he did a brief stint at the University of Toronto and attended seminars and lectures for a full term at Florida State University in Tallahassee. In June 2016, he completed his high school teaching diploma in English Language and Religious Studies at the "Institut für Erziehungswissenschaft" of the University of Zurich.
His research interests reside in the early modern period with a particular emphasis on spirituality and its manifestation in the literary works of the same period, particularly the ones of Edmund Spenser, John Donne, George Herbert, John Milton, etc. Supported by a two-year grant sponsored by the University of Zurich’s Forschungskredit and supervised by Prof. Allen Reddick, Cyril wrote his doctoral thesis on the life-transcending metaphor of the last pilgrimage (see below), which he defended—"magna cum laude"—in April 2017 and which was published in March 2018 by Transcript Verlag in Europe and distributed by Columbia University Press in North America.
In September 2016, he became Faculty Teacher of English ("mbA") at Kantonsschule Rychenberg, a selective high school in Winterthur. Apart from all this, Cyril is deeply fascinated by Renaissance and early Baroque vocal music, which he greatly enjoys not only as a listener but also as an active member of a vocal ensemble and as an occasional bass soloist.
PhD Project: The Last Pilgrimage to Eternity: Early Modern Poets and Their Eschatology
The Last Pilgrimage to Eternity: Protestant Paths to the Afterlife in Early Modern English Poetry was published in March 2018.
With the advent of the reformation, concepts of living and dying were profoundly reconfigured. As purgatory disappeared from the spiritual landscape, other paths to the afterlife were rediscovered. Thus, when life draws to a close, the passage to the afterlife becomes a last pilgrimage, a popular early modern metaphor that has received little critical commentary. In a rigorous historical and theological reading, Cyril L. Caspar explores five major English poets – John Donne, Sir Walter Raleigh, George Herbert, Edmund Spenser, and John Milton – to unveil the poetical potential of the last pilgrimage as a life-transcending metaphor.
Caspar, Cyril L. The Last Pilgrimage to Eternity: Protestant Paths to the Afterlife in Early Modern English Poetry. Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag, 2018. Link
Caspar, Cyril L. "New Perspectives of the Early Modern Afterlife: The Last Pilgrimage in the Poetry of John Donne and Sir Walter Raleigh." In: Albrecht Classen, ed., Death in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Times: The Material and Spiritual Conditions of the Culture of Death (Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2016), 432–56. Link
Caspar, Cyril L., Regula Eschle Wyler and Bruno Wyler. "Cornerstones in Ulrich Bach’s Work on Theology and Disability." Journal of Religion, Disability and Health 15:1 (2011), 34–41. Link
Conference Papers, Workshops, Lectures, and Other Talks
Workshop on "Literature and Theology in Renaissance England (with a special focus on George Herbert)" – given at the Think Tank Theology weekend in Langwies, GR (Switzerland) – October 10, 2015.
"Introduction to Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene (1590/96) – Book I" – delivered at the English Department of the University of Zurich (Switzerland) as part of the undergraduate lecture series History of Literature in English – September 24, 2015.
"The End of the Pilgrimage: a Grasp of the Early Modern Afterlife" – delivered at the Grounding the Sacred Through the Arts 2015 Conference at the Australian Catholic University in Strathfield (NSW, Australia) – July 23–26, 2015.
"The End of the Pilgrimage: a Grasp of the Early Modern Afterlife" – delivered at the 10th Biennial ANZAMEMS Conferenceat the University of Queensland in Brisbane (QLD, Australia) – July 14–18, 2015.
"Sir Walter Raleigh's Profound Use of Imagery in 'The Passionate Mans Pilgrimage' (1604)" – delivered at the International Symposium on Images of Identity organized by the English Department of the University of Zurich (Switzerland) – January 30, 2015.
"New Perspectives of the Early Modern Afterlife: The Last Pilgrimage in the Poetry of John Donne and Sir Walter Raleigh" – delivered at the International Symposium on Death and the Culture of Death in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Time at the University of Arizona, Tucson (AZ, USA) – May 2, 2014.
"'Blood must be my bodies balmer': Sir Walter Raleighs 'The Passionate Mans Pilgrimage' (1604)" – delivered in German during a graduate workshop on Blut und Barock at the German Department of the University of Zurich (Switzerland) – December 13, 2013.