Dr. Francesca Ciancimino Howell

Greetings and blessings! Thank you for visiting my site.  I am a writer, spiritual counselor or companion, a scholar and also former actor of the international stage and screen. 

 

I have had the privilege of living and working in Europe, the UK and South America -- adding up to fifteen years or a bit more abroad. My academic research examines questions of place-based materiality and embodied experiences of Nature, seeing Nature as an agent -- not a subject. Resilience for communities and also for individuals is an important theme that has run through my vocational and avocational work, worldwide. (However, most people particularly want to hear about my soap opera or stage work... or my dining at Kensington Palace, or meeting royalty -- all true! -- not the bits about saving dolphins or holding hands with very ill folks.) 

A propos of resilience, a few years ago I became a professional chaplain. My hospital internship was completed in 2017; then I finished the subsequent units of "Clinical Pastoral Education" with a hospital residency in 2018-2019 as a Resident Chaplain in Denver. I have also provided spiritual care and support to patients and their families as a hospice chaplain. It has been an honor, a massive blessing and privilege to help companion people in vulnerable situations, life crises and healthcare decision-making. Today I am in private practice as a "Spiritual Companion". 

 

This leap beyond academia some years ago was due to a profound sense of calling to professional chaplaincy, to serve and to help heal. It followed on decades of environmental and wildlife work and service, as well as decades of spiritual leadership and healing work, all internationally. My writing, even the new fiction I am working on now, weaves in magic, healing, eco-chaplaincy, activism and broad community engagement. 

 

Many of the places and cultures I have been blessed to live in or visit often show their influence on me and in my work. Foreign language and cultures often play central roles in my mind and research; for example, I speak Italian and Spanish, and have strong proficiency in French.  I've dabbled in a few more, and always hope to learn another language. Perhaps an ancient one next time? I do love brushing up my high school Latin... 

SOME ACADEMIC EVENTS

My Bloomsbury Academic Book --published Aug. 2018 (hard cover); (soft cover) Feb. 2020
Reviews on line:
 https://www.bloomsbury.com/us/food-festival-and-religion-9781350020863/
AAR/SBL/ASOR
I have had the pleasure of presenting different aspects of my work at the American Academy of Religion on various occasions. For example the national conference in Denver, Nov. 2018 was a high point, as it showcased my  Bloomsbury Academic book and Italian research of over a decade.  
At the AAR Regional meetings at
CU Boulder, 2017 I also presented a paper on my research on materiality  and lived religion, which was very well received. It was a most inspiring conference with excellent disciplinary cross-fertilization.
 
 
The International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature & Culture, together with the India-China Institute
"Mountains and Sacred Landscapes" Conference - The New School, 2017
This was a fascinating conference in NYC where I was delighted to present a paper on my work; it looked at themes of sustainability and resilience, through bonds with place and community, including the "other-than-human". I continue to use Italy as one lens, drawing from my work in Lombardy and Piedmont. 
The many panels were superb -- a brilliant conference.

MY LATEST PROJECTS

Food, Festival and Religion: Materiality and Place in Italy, Aug. 2018/Feb. 2020, is published by Bloomsbury Academic.  Bloomsbury describes the series my book is part of thus:

 

"Books in the series are at the cutting edge of debates as well as developments in fields including religious studies, anthropology, museum studies, art history, and material culture studies."

Reviews & endorsements, as well as orders, are available at: https://www.bloomsbury.com/us/food-festival-and-religion-9781350020870/

Festivals, rituals, foodways, feasting with one's community and other such shared experiences can help humans to deepen and manifest their bonds with place, home, community and the ineffable "other-than-human". Land, Nature, all that makes up what we call "the environment" are the other-than-human. Foodways maintain gastronomic traditions that relay and honor history, culture, memory and place. My work over decades has engaged with questions of humanity's relationships with Nature as well as with animals, whether in my early career as an environmental campaigner and a performer, or later as a teacher, chaplain, scholar and writer.