Winner of the 2005 Best New Canadian Christian Author Award.
Hilaire Kallendorf is on a personal crusade to put the human back in the humanities by intertwining spirituality and academia.
The Hispanic studies professor at Texas A&M University researches religion in Spain and has tackled such topics as exorcism, demons, sins and morality in her research. Recognizing God and religion as an academic pursuit is important for the native West Texan, who grew up Catholic and considers religion her main inspiration.
"Religion is often dismissed in academia," she said. "But there is a whole realm that can't be explained away by science. If we ignore that aspect of the human experience, we ignore what it means to be human."
Kallendorf, a 31-year-old graduate of A&M who received her master's and doctorate from Princeton, was awarded the $50,000 Hiett Prize in the Humanities for 2006 by the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture.
Kallendorf's work deals with religious experience, especially as belief relates to literature and culture. She is the author of the book Exorcism and Its Texts: Subjectivity in Early Modern Literature of England and Spain.
She was inspired to delve into the eerie world of exorcism by her father, Cliff Richey, a professional tennis star of the 1970s.
"My father was always talking about fighting his personal demons," she said. "I wanted to take a look at what that would mean in a different time and place."