Welcome to The Priory

My name is Karen Swallow Prior. I’m a reader, writer, and professor. I have a Ph. D. in English from the State University of New York at Buffalo and recently (and unexpectedly) left full-time classroom teaching after 25 years. I have written, edited, and contributed to numerous books. Literature is my first love (particularly British literature and the early English novel), but I also care about culture, creativity, and the cultivation of “the good life.”

I’ve created this newsletter as a way of continuing to use my gift of teaching, refining my writing, and devoting more of my attention on what is good, true, and beautiful.

I hope to draw a community of like-minded (and even not-so-like-minded!) folks who are interested in reading, literature, philosophy, and faith—and who are perhaps (like me) increasingly dissatisfied with the state of discourse elsewhere.

Increasingly, I think the greatest thing that divides us is not what we think or believe, but how we live and how we comport ourselves with one another when we don’t agree.

For more about how I got started here, I invite you to read my first newsletter.

Thanks for visiting and perhaps staying a while at The Priory.

[Photo credit: Ashlee Glen]

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Prayers of Attention


I am a reader, writer, and professor attending more closely to what is good, true, and beautiful. The Priory is devoted to the holy cultivation of a rich inner life. “Attention is the beginning of devotion.” -- Mary Oliver