Edward Howells

Research activity per year

Personal profile


My teaching and research are on Christian spirituality and mystical thought, with particular attention to the theological texts and writers of the medieval and early modern periods.  My interest began as an undergraduate at Bristol University, where I studied mystical theology in a final year course; then in master’s study of medieval theology at Oxford University; and finally in doctoral work at the University of Chicago with Bernard McGinn (completed in 1999).  I wrote my dissertation on the mystical anthropology of John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila (published in 2002).  I taught briefly at the University of Birmingham as a lecturer in Systematic Theology before moving to Heythrop College as a lecturer in Christian Spirituality in 2001.  At Heythrop College I worked mainly with Master's Students, as Convenor of the MA in Christian Spirituality and as Dean of Posgraduate Studies (taught programmes), also supervising MPhil and PhD research students.  In September 2017 I joined the Humanities Department at Roehampton University as a Senior Lecturer in Theology.

Research interests

My research is in the late medieval and early modern texts of mystical theology, particularly John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila, and other writers in the Western mystical tradition (for instance, Augustine and Pierre de Bérulle).  I study the historical-intellectual tradition of mystical theology, especially the theme of theological anthropology (conceptions of humanity in relation to God) and recently the theme of desire (as a process of attraction and growth in relation to God).

Research projects

I am currently working on the Oxford Companion of Mystical Theology, co-edited with Mark McIntosh (Loyola University Chicago), to be published in 2019, bringing together international scholarship on mystical theology in terms of its major themes and contribution to theology.  Also I am writing A Short History of Christian Spirituality for I.B. Tauris (2019).  I am part of the University of Roehampton Centre for the Philosophy of Religion and recently presented a paper on desire in the mystical tradition for the Centre's Project on Religious Experience and Desire.


I have recently taught courses (at MA and BA levels) on: The history of Christian Mysticism to the Reformation; Foundations for the study of Christian Spirituality; The theology of grace; The spirituality of Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross; Spirituality and mysticism in the Abrahamic Faiths; Belief and Unbelief; Classics of Christian literature.

I  have supervised six PhD and one MPhil research students to successful completion, and welcome enquiries from prospective research students in the areas of mystical theology and spirituality.