Submitted Proposals (2019-2020)

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Proposal # Date Panel Title Paper Title
Proposal # 140 2020-01-22 Disposing Oneself to Recognize God’s Existence: Reading Anselm’s 'Proslogion' Rightly
Proposal # 138 2020-01-22 Du Maurier’s Novel and Hitchcock’s Film Rebecca: Nothing Succeeds like Excess (and Forbidden Sex)
Proposal # 132 2020-01-22 Paul Sabatier, Strange Pilgrim. A French Protestant scholar encounters an Italian Catholic saint.
Proposal # 130 2020-01-22 Dead Men Do Tell Tales: Corpses in Herodotus Serving as Beacons of Enlightenment and Propaganda
Proposal # 137 2020-01-20 How to Read a Myth: Nativism and The Legend of Yamato Takeru
Proposal # 134 2020-01-20 Reading and Walking in Edward Hopper’s Lonely City
Proposal # 131 2020-01-18 "The New Philanthropists: Andrew Carnegie's Gospel of Wealth and Rise of Modern Philanthropy,"
Proposal # 129 2020-01-18 The English Romani as a source for Feste in Twelfth Night: Shakespeare’s Civil Savage “…a people whose vocabulary lacks two words – ‘duty’ and ‘possession’” (Bercovici 13)
Proposal # 128 2020-01-18 Winston Churchill's "Great Contemporaries": An Aristotelian Appraisal of Public Life
Proposal # 125 2020-01-18 “Scout Gets Woke with Core Texts: Teaching and Learning as ‘Implicated Subjects’”
Proposal # 122 2020-01-18 The Augustinian Structure of the Summa Theologiae
Proposal # 120 2020-01-18 Dread Jaws of Mercy: Salvation through the Grotesque in the Book of Jonah
Proposal # 97 2020-01-18 Sublime Rhthym's of Beethoven's Seventh
Proposal # 127 2020-01-16 Love and Renewal: Aquinas on the Question of the "Liberation" of Emerging Technologies
Proposal # 126 2020-01-16
Proposal # 124 2020-01-16 Metamorphoses "The Strong Do What They Will . . .in Hong Kong"
Proposal # 123 2020-01-16 Nietzsche and Chesterton: Reason, Myth, and Orthodoxy
Proposal # 121 2020-01-16 Plato and Montesquieu: Music and the City
Proposal # 119 2020-01-16 Fourteen Reservations for Fourteen Points
Proposal # 118 2020-01-16 Augustine and Mirandola on Freedom: A Contract in Moral Applications
Proposal # 117 2020-01-16 Reading Nammalvar: Translation and Transcendence in *Hymns for the Drowning*
Proposal # 116 2020-01-16 Formation for Social Justice: Contemplation A pedagogy to diversify the teaching of a stubborn canon
Proposal # 115 2020-01-16 “Open the books, if you wish to be free”: Education and Enfranchisement
Proposal # 114 2020-01-16 Digital Deep Diving into Core Texts
Proposal # 113 2020-01-16 Metamorphosis Metamorphosis and Metaphor in Vergil’s Eclogue VI and Ovid’s Metamorphoses I.
Proposal # 112 2020-01-16 Marx & Spencer: Nationalism and the Question of Human Nature
Proposal # 84 2020-01-16 On the purposes of traditional Chinese astronomy
Proposal # 111 2020-01-15 Poetry's Grasp of Being
Proposal # 110 2020-01-15 Music as a Liberal Art in Plato, Aristotle, and Boethius
Proposal # 109 2020-01-15 Teaching the Trivium in Political Theory
Proposal # 108 2020-01-15 Transformations of Power in bell hooks' "Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center"
Proposal # 107 2020-01-15 Re-re-reading the Divine Comedy
Proposal # 106 2020-01-15 Civil Rights: Reconstruction or Resurrection?
Proposal # 105 2020-01-15 Environmental masculinity in John Burroughs
Proposal # 104 2020-01-15 Aristotle vs. Newman on Liberal Education
Proposal # 103 2020-01-15 Impressionists, Susan Sontag, and Liberal Arts
Proposal # 102 2020-01-15 Sappho: Poet, Philosopher, Performer
Proposal # 101 2020-01-15 Metamorphosis Metamorphoses of Gaia in Aeschylus’ Oresteia
Proposal # 100 2020-01-15 Is Hamlet a Tragedy? Forays into the Terrain of Comedy
Proposal # 99 2020-01-15 Changing the World in Happiness: Dostoevsky's Heroes and Antiheroes
Proposal # 98 2020-01-15 Man’s Recollection of the Happy Life
Proposal # 95 2020-01-15 Mama and Me Chronicles
Proposal # 94 2020-01-15 Social Justice and the Limits of Liberal Democracy
Proposal # 93 2020-01-15 Exercising Our Moral Muscles
Proposal # 92 2020-01-15 Is it liberating to read Plato?
Proposal # 91 2020-01-15 Mama and Me Chronicles, Part 1
Proposal # 90 2020-01-14 Augustine Versus Varro
Proposal # 89 2020-01-14 Sellars, Hegel, and Self-consciousness
Proposal # 88 2020-01-14 Philosophy, Economics, and Aristotle's Liberal Care for the Human Good
Proposal # 87 2020-01-14 Plutarch’s “Life of Caesar”: Empire, Populism, and Post-Constitutional Rule
Proposal # 86 2020-01-14 The Role of the Impartial Spectator in Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments
Proposal # 85 2020-01-14 Should we strive to come back to Ithaca?
Proposal # 83 2020-01-14 Using Core Texts in Animal Studies
Proposal # 82 2020-01-13 On Transgressing Unjust Laws
Proposal # 81 2020-01-13 Metamorphosis On Pyramus and Thisbe
Proposal # 80 2020-01-13 The City, The Man, and The Good Life
Proposal # 78 2020-01-13 Great Books and Great Citizens: Politics and Education in the Thought of Robert Hutchins
Proposal # 77 2020-01-13 Bringing Shadow into Light: Carl Jung's Liber Novus and the Spiritual Anxieties of Modern Life
Proposal # 76 2020-01-13 Cicero, the City, and the Objects of Statesmanship
Proposal # 75 2020-01-13 Situating Play: On the Significance of the Non-Serious
Proposal # 74 2020-01-13 A place of their own: locus amoenus as poetic place construction
Proposal # 73 2020-01-13 The Good and the Holy: Aristotle’s Argument for Contemplation in Nicomachean Ethics
Proposal # 72 2020-01-12 Aristotle on Anger: Its Virtuous and Vicious States
Proposal # 71 2020-01-11 Climate Change: Rescue and Restoration Approaches to Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in the Rule of Benedict
Proposal # 70 2020-01-11 Climate Change: Rescue and Restoration
Proposal # 69 2020-01-11 “You are Dearer to me if you Receive my Advice”: Cicero on Love and Education
Proposal # 68 2020-01-10 Reading Eastern Critics of the West in 2020: Solzhenitsyn and Legutko in Conversation
Proposal # 67 2020-01-10 On Transgressing Unjust Laws
Proposal # 66 2020-01-10 On Leisure, Liberal Education, and Citizenship: Aristotle, de Tocqueville and Anna Julia Cooper in Conversation
Proposal # 64 2020-01-10 Higher Education and Democracy: Revisiting Allan Bloom on Plato's Democratic Man
Proposal # 63 2020-01-10 Cacciaguida’s Speech in the Divine Comedy: Praise as a Proper Expression of Language in Paradise
Proposal # 46 2020-01-10 Contextualizing Injustice in Otsuka's When the Emperor Was Divine
Proposal # 62 2020-01-09 Edmund Burke's Redefinition of Nationality
Proposal # 61 2020-01-09 Simone Weil on Patriotism as Compassion in Simone Weil's "The Need for Roots"
Proposal # 60 2020-01-08 Human Virtue and the Admirable Greatness of Tragedy On the Contemplative Desire for Action: Xenophon on the Tragic Stage of Human Greatness
Proposal # 59 2020-01-08 The Excellence of Human Virtue and the Admirable Greatness of Tragedy The Relation Between Phronr a Comedy?
Proposal # 57 2020-01-07 Aristotle Blushes: Reconsidering the Humanities PHD
Proposal # 56 2020-01-07 Liberal Education and Corrupting the Youth
Proposal # 55 2020-01-07 The LIberal Arts as the Possession of All
Proposal # 54 2020-01-06 Dante's Platonism
Proposal # 53 2020-01-05 Job and the Ecologist
Proposal # 52 2020-01-03 Ibn Tufayl’s Hayy Ibn Yaqzan and the Foundations of the Natural Sciences
Proposal # 51 2020-01-03 "My heart is not a mirror": Personal Discovery through Ancient Chinese Song
Proposal # 50 2020-01-02 Both a Divine Plan and Freedom: Providence in Democracy in America
Proposal # 49 2020-01-02 Sometimes You Can't Go Home Again: Symptoms of PTSD in The Odyssey
Proposal # 48 2020-01-02 Liberating Lear
Proposal # 47 2020-01-01 A Third Solution to the Riddle of the Sphinx and the Universal Significance of Sophocles’ Three Theban Plays
Proposal # 45 2019-12-31 Nonviolent tension in Hamlet
Proposal # 43 2019-12-30 Wisdom and Education in the Solomonic Tradition
Proposal # 42 2019-12-30 Let Us Make Incision: Shakespeare and Race in Merchant of Venice
Proposal # 41 2019-12-30 Moderation and its Cultivation
Proposal # 40 2019-12-26 Tolstoy's What Is Art? Revolution and Counterrevolution
Proposal # 38 2019-12-22 Limiting the structural violence of metaphysical beliefs
Proposal # 37 2019-12-21 Formation for Social Justice: Contemplation Life in the Woods as Contemplative Foundation for Social Justice
Proposal # 28 2019-12-21 The Art of Classical Rhetoric
Proposal # 36 2019-12-18 Livy on the Conditions for Republican Government
Proposal # 35 2019-12-16 Transgressive readings and responses to gender-based violence in core texts
Proposal # 34 2019-12-15 The Transgressions of the Elders: The Social Critique of Confucianism as Harbinger and Paradox in Ba Jin's Family
Proposal # 33 2019-12-11 “Nothing Violent Long Endures”: Virtue, Benefaction, and Statesmanship in Petrarch’s Political Letters
Proposal # 32 2019-12-11 Should we strive to come back to Ithaca?
Proposal # 31 2019-12-10 Woman's War: Force & Persuasion in the Opening Scene of Richard II
Proposal # 30 2019-12-09 Spiritual Freedom and Moral Transgression in The Brothers Karamazov
Proposal # 29 2019-12-09 VIRTUOUS FRIENDSHIP AS THE BEAUTIFUL COMPLETION OF JUSTICE
Proposal # 27 2019-12-06 Formation for Social Justice: Contemplation and Action
Proposal # 25 2019-12-06 Anti-Imperialism in Mark Twain's Connecticut Yankee
Proposal # 24 2019-12-05 Aquinas Vs. the Skeptic
 

Proposal Number: 140
Date: 2020-01-22
Paper Title: Disposing Oneself to Recognize God’s Existence: Reading Anselm’s 'Proslogion' Rightly
Core Text:
Anselm, 'Proslogion'
Abstract:
In Chapters 2–4 of the 'Proslogion', Anselm articulates an argument for God’s existence based on the thought of “something than which nothing greater is able to be thought.” Often overlooked, however, is Anselm’s narrative about the origin of this thought (in the Preface) and the way he disposes the reader to take up this thought (in Chapter 1). By attending closely to both the Preface and Chapter 1 of the 'Proslogion', I will show how one can enter into Anselm’s thought rightly, thereby being led into the recognition that God truly exists.


Proposal Number: 138
Date: 2020-01-22
Paper Title: Du Maurier’s Novel and Hitchcock’s Film Rebecca: Nothing Succeeds like Excess (and Forbidden Sex)
Core Text:
Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca
Abstract:
In the eternal debate over whether iconic popular texts and core texts might overlap, Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 novel Rebecca and Alfred Hitchcock’s 1940 film adaptation thereof are enough to provoke a fine frenzy. Du Maurier’s Rebecca is, many would agree, at least partly responsible for thousands of schlocky romance novels. But must we curse the genre-forming progenitor text for having uncomely offspring? What better novel to discuss our conference epigraph (the past not even being past) than one in which we’re locked in the consciousness of a second wife obsessed with the ‘presence’ of her dead predecessor/rival?


Proposal Number: 132
Date: 2020-01-22
Paper Title: Paul Sabatier, Strange Pilgrim. A French Protestant scholar encounters an Italian Catholic saint.
Core Text:
Paul Sabatier's Lifer of Francis of Assisi
Abstract:
In 1893, liberal Protestant scholar Paul Sabatier, published his ground-breaking biography of Francis of Assisi which presents the saint as an independent thinker with an unmediated connection to God. Yet what some viewed as the strength of the new more universal Francis, his independence and revolutionary spirit, others were to see it as an insidious appropriation of a Catholic (and Italian) saint by Protestants, Modernists and agnostics (and non-Italians!) We must ask whether Sabatier's liberal Protestantism reveals elements missed by Catholic hagiographers and scholars, or blind him to the evidence of a more traditional observance by Francis.


Proposal Number: 130
Date: 2020-01-22
Paper Title: Dead Men Do Tell Tales: Corpses in Herodotus Serving as Beacons of Enlightenment and Propaganda
Core Text:
Herodotus Histories
Abstract:
This paper will examine the uses to which people put corpses in Herodotus' Histories. While it is unusual to think that corpses can tell the living much about being alive, Herodotus suggests the opposite. Namely, Herodotus' portrayals both enlighten in that they suggest something about the living - about living itself - and they simultaneously serve as a warning that the living might twist the dead to work in ways contrary to liberation itself. By bringing awareness to such issues, Herodotus helps to liberate us from systems and people that might want to oppress us.


Proposal Number: 137
Date: 2020-01-20
Paper Title: How to Read a Myth: Nativism and The Legend of Yamato Takeru
Core Text:
The Legend of Yamato Takeru
Abstract:
My presentation will focus on an influential reading of the myth of the legendary Japanese hero Yamato Takeru, whose exploits are related in the Record of Ancient Matters (Kojiki), compiled in 720 CE. As read by the nativist scholar Motoori Norinaga (1730-1801), Yamato Takeru was not only a heroic warrior, but the embodiment of a depth of emotion unique to the Japanese. It was here that he found the fullest expression of the emotional sensitivity of heart and mind captured in the term mono no aware (the pathos of things). This in turn became the basis of Motoori’s vision of a native (non-Chinese) social order in which individual, household and country exist in a state of harmony. By contrasting Motoori’s reading with other ways of interpreting the Yamato Takeru myth, students can be sensitized to the ways in which contemporary views are read into classical texts.


Proposal Number: 134
Date: 2020-01-20
Paper Title: Reading and Walking in Edward Hopper’s Lonely City
Core Text:
Virginia Woolf's Street Haunting, Charles Dickens' Night Walks
Abstract:
More than the simple movement between two places, the universal human act of walking can be transformed into a ritual, a meditation, or even a revolutionary act. For Walter Benjamin, a walk through Parisian streets was a search to understand the modern. For Virginia Woolf, a winter stroll was the quest for the perfect pencil. For Thoreau, to walk was a form of resistance. For Charles Dickens, a night walk was an act of observation and investigation. Hidden within many great texts, there are countless miles covered in the seemingly simple, everyday practice of walking. Using the urban landscapes of Edward Hopper’s art and the selected writings of Woolf, Dickens, and Benjamin, this paper explores the connection between walking, reading and contemplating a text.


Proposal Number: 131
Date: 2020-01-18
Paper Title: "The New Philanthropists: Andrew Carnegie's Gospel of Wealth and Rise of Modern Philanthropy,"
Core Text:
Gospel of Wealth - Andrew Carnegie
Abstract:
This paper will explore the ideas on philanthropy outlined by Andrew Carnegie in Gilded Age classic Gospel of Wealth and compare them to the motives of the current wave of philanthropic giving by the world's richest people. Motives for giving include a) the desire to rehabilitate one's image, b) create a legacy, c) promote business interests, and d) sincere desire to help others. The goal is not to judge the legitimacy of giving but to identify similarities and differences towards philanthropy between the two eras in American history


Proposal Number: 129
Date: 2020-01-18
Paper Title: The English Romani as a source for Feste in Twelfth Night: Shakespeare’s Civil Savage “…a people whose vocabulary lacks two words – ‘duty’ and ‘possession’” (Bercovici 13)
Core Text:
Twelfth Night
Abstract:
Often scholars, students, and teachers need to use more than one academic discipline to come to an enriched understanding of a subject. The fields of Historical Anthropology, Literary Criticism, and Textual and Performative Analysis can usefully be employed to illuminate my thesis, that the character, Feste, in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, is modeled at least in part on the English Romani who proliferated along the sides of the country roads and on the wrong side of the Thames in the Taverns and Ordinaries, and with whom Shakespeare would have been familiar. I read the travelling musician, Feste, as a property-less wanderer, a free man, the voice of Time and Timelessness, a spirit of grace come among a fallen people, and Fate’s sorcerer. Such an approach casts new light on both the Romani of the Tudor period and on the play, and leads to the discovery of new ironies in both cases. Such a reading can also help us as we move into a new global world of mass migrations and misunderstandings among people.


Proposal Number: 128
Date: 2020-01-18
Paper Title: Winston Churchill's "Great Contemporaries": An Aristotelian Appraisal of Public Life
Core Text:
"Great Contemporaries"
Abstract:
Churchill carefully weighs the merits and defects of world political figures with whom he has come in contact according to principles remarkably and not unsuspiciously aligned with those discovered by Aristotle in his attempt to describe the "great-souled man". As he says about his stand-in for Aristotle, Prime Minister A. J. Balfour: "He would very soon have put Socrates in his place, if that old fellow had played any of his dialectical tricks upon him. When I go to Heaven, I shall try to arrange a chat between these two on some topic, not to recondite for me to follow."


Proposal Number: 125
Date: 2020-01-18
Paper Title: “Scout Gets Woke with Core Texts: Teaching and Learning as ‘Implicated Subjects’”
Core Text:
Bible; Augustine, Confessions; Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird,
Abstract:
Using Michael Rothberg‘s concept of The Implicated Subject (Stanford 2019), I discuss how post-WWII Alabama texts can serve as a heuristic to review and reflect on our parts in “The Great Conversation” about humanity from the Classics to the U. N.’s Declaration of Universal Rights---the latter of which occurred as Dixiecrats were organizing in Birmingham. In Harper Lee’s first novel Go Set A Watchman, rather than the idealized, popular classic To Kill A Mockingbird, twenty-something Jean Louise Finch, a well-educated young white Protestant, struggles to navigate conflicting narratives, palimpsest memories, political and personal turmoil, and ignorance---especially her own---about current events locally and globally, African-American history, Jewish history, gender history, intellectual history, immigration, socio-economics, white supremacy, and tensions within Christianity and Christendom---Niebuhr’s Christ in Culture---from Augustine to the Buckle of the Bible Belt. Acknowledging the challenges/opportunities of engaging Core Texts at a predominantly white religious campus in Birmingham, I will outline how Core Texts surveys can help us all, as implicated subjects of the past, present, and future, navigate “Alabamification” of broader culture in our close reading and interrogation of texts in the meta-narratives we inherit, deconstruct and wish to construct. Pedagogical examples with multiple Core Texts will be used. .


Proposal Number: 122
Date: 2020-01-18
Paper Title: The Augustinian Structure of the Summa Theologiae
Core Text:
Aquinas, Summa Theologiae; Augustine, Confessions
Abstract:
In this paper, my argument is that Aquinas’ structuring of the Summa Theologiae follows the order of Augustine’s questions and prayer to God at the beginning of Confessions, with Aquinas usually providing firm foundations for this order which Augustine himself does not provide. In Confessions 1.1, Augustine asserts that one must first be preached to about the Lord, then the one receiving the preaching makes a choice to believe in who and what has been preached, followed by the person then either knowing and/or calling upon God. Similarly, Aquinas begins the Summa Theologiae by exploring the nature of sacred teaching, under which preaching would fall, then the existence and nature of God, and finally our knowledge of God and the names by which we call upon Him.


Proposal Number: 120
Date: 2020-01-18
Paper Title: Dread Jaws of Mercy: Salvation through the Grotesque in the Book of Jonah
Core Text:
The Book of Jonah; Short Stories of Flannery O'Connor
Abstract:
In the stories of Flannery O’Connor, salvation comes to characters most frequently in the guise of the grotesque. In O’Connor’s literary cosmos, by being gored by a bull, or shot by a criminal, or having your prosthetic leg stolen by an imposter-Bible-salesman, characters are given grace so as to be saved through grotesque moments of violence. Although a number of her Catholic contemporaries were shocked by O’Connor’s use of the grotesque and violence, the paradoxical relationship between these aspects of life and salvation is not simply a modern innovation, but lies within the sign which Christ says will be the only sign given to “a wicked and adulterous generation”: “the sign of Jonah” (Mt 16:1-4). This essay will explore God’s method of bringing salvation to Jonah in the Book of Jonah, with an eye to the way that God’s gift is given in such a way that challenges and provokes His beloved.


Proposal Number: 97
Date: 2020-01-18
Paper Title: Sublime Rhthym's of Beethoven's Seventh
Core Text:
Symphony no. 7 in A Major; Edmund Burke's On the Beautiful and the Sublime
Abstract:
The paper explores the presentation of Beethoven’s Symphony no. 7 as part of an introductory general education course through the combination of two different pedagogical approaches. First, students are encouraged to analyze and compare various three-beat rhythms. Second, they are encouraged to consider their responses to these rhythmic patterns in the light of Edmund Burke’s On the Beautiful and the Sublime. Burke offers a contemporary perspective on Beethoven’s music, and his discussion of sublime objects as “rugged” and “broken” has an obvious application to the dotted rhythms of the first and last movements of the symphony.


Proposal Number: 127
Date: 2020-01-16
Paper Title: Love and Renewal: Aquinas on the Question of the "Liberation" of Emerging Technologies
Core Text:
Aquinas
Abstract:
Thomas Aquinas agrees with Aristotle’s definition of love, namely, that it “is to will good to someone.” In recent years, there has been a steady increase of scholarship debating the exact role emerging technologies should play in promoting the good for human beings and to what extent they should be allowed to “re-imagine” what it means to be human. In this paper, it is argued that given Aquinas’ definition of love, he would support the careful and ethical implementation of certain human enhancement technologies to promote the common good, such as gene therapies for diseases. It is concluded that for Aquinas promoting a loving society ultimately includes the careful use of emerging technologies to better promote the good of those we care for.


Proposal Number: 126
Date: 2020-01-16
Paper Title:
Core Text:

Abstract:


Proposal Number: 124
Date: 2020-01-16
Paper Title: "The Strong Do What They Will . . .in Hong Kong"
Core Text:
Thucydides's History
Abstract:
The Melian Dialogue shines a bright light on how an empire can be at its nadir when it believes itself to be making steady progress toward its apex, and the parallels between how Athens and Melos are portrayed in that dialogue to the current tensions between China and Hong Kong are uncanny. This essay will explore both of these things.

Conference Panel Proposal

Title of panel: Metamorphoses
Six sentence description or abstract of panel:
(David is submitting this, I believe.)


Proposal Number: 123
Date: 2020-01-16
Paper Title: Nietzsche and Chesterton: Reason, Myth, and Orthodoxy
Core Text:
Nietzsche's 'Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music', Chesterton's 'The Everlasting Man' and 'Heretics'
Abstract:
Nietzsche stands as one of the greatest (if not the greatest) critics of Christianity, and Chesterton as one of its greatest apologists. Chesterton even confronts Nietzsche directly in his own works. Despite their opposition with regard to Christianity, their writings reveal an astonishing number of similar views, particularly with regard to the collapse of Greek civilization, the modern notion of “progress”, and the rise and prevalence of reason. I attempt to resolve the contradictions between the two authors, in an effort to provide answers to present issues both correctly foresaw.


Proposal Number: 121
Date: 2020-01-16
Paper Title: Plato and Montesquieu: Music and the City
Core Text:
"Laws" and "Spirit of the Laws"
Abstract:
Montesquieu, occasionally in his "Spirit of the Laws", brings into question the teaching of Plato on music, and what he—that is, Plato—considers the role of music in political life to be. Needless to say, the Eleatic Stranger in the "Laws" and Montesquieu hold significantly different positions on the character and benefit of music, and perhaps even stand diametrically opposed to one another. In this paper, I highlight their respective teachings, taking care to consider the context in which their respective discourses on music arise, and to clarify how these two philosophers incorporate music into their political thought. I maintain that there is a proportionate correspondence between the elevation of virtue—i.e., excellence of soul in the moral sense—and the high praise of music’s educative effects in Plato; reciprocally, the denigration of virtue to the place of gentility and the analysis of music’s worth to its aesthetic substance go hand in hand in Montesquieu’s account.


Proposal Number: 119
Date: 2020-01-16
Paper Title: Fourteen Reservations for Fourteen Points
Core Text:
Woodrow Wilson's 14 Points Speech
Abstract:
On January 8, 1918, Woodrow Wilson laid out his, and he assumed, the United States conditions for bringing an end to the first World War. The end of the war, and the negotiations at Versailles, resulted and a peace treaty which failed in the Senate in great part as a result of Senator Henry Cabot Lodge who framed his, and, his fellow Republicans', opposition into the form of fourteen Reservations to be imposed on the Treaty. In Western Culture 102, the discussion of the Fourteen Points and the failure of the United States to enter the League is among the most stimulating of the Semester. I intend to review the basic points of both Wilson's vision and Lodges opposition, followed by a consideration 100 years later, of the enduring character of the issues raised by the first confrontation of Wilsonianism and what is often called the conservative or nationalist response.


Proposal Number: 118
Date: 2020-01-16
Paper Title: Augustine and Mirandola on Freedom: A Contract in Moral Applications
Core Text:
Augustine, Enchiridion
Abstract:
Augustine and Mirandola on Freedom: A Contract in Moral Applications The contemporary crisis in substance abuse exposes students to a host of moral problems. Is it a supply problem or demand? Is the addict free to choose? This paper explores how Core Texts can address issues like this through an examination of Saint Augustine’s and Pico della Mirandola’s doctrines of freedom. Mirandola offers a high doctrine of human autonomy; Augustine demurs. This paper suggests that the study of Core Texts, and the humanities generally, offer more than academic technique and “critical thinking”. They offer immediate guidance to some of students’ most pressing, contemporary problems.


Proposal Number: 117
Date: 2020-01-16
Paper Title: Reading Nammalvar: Translation and Transcendence in *Hymns for the Drowning*
Core Text:
Naalayira Divya Padbhandham
Abstract:
For a modern reader, especially early career college students, engaging and understanding the passion and devotion of early Indian literature can be a challenge. This paper will argue for the value of translation by poets as well as scholars in encountering core texts by discussing the mid-20th century Indian poet A. K. Ramanujan's now classic translation of selections of the early Hindu saint Nammalvar's devotional verse, *Hymns for the Drowning.* Placing the translation in both a discussion of A. K. Ramanujan's career and the broader project of introducing a Western audience to the South Asian devotional literature, and through an exploration of the verses themselves, the paper will discuss how these verses both mediate and transcend the gaps produced by time, space, and culture between contemporary students and Nammalvar, offering both a personal and universal song of spiritual liberation.


Proposal Number: 116
Date: 2020-01-16
Paper Title: A pedagogy to diversify the teaching of a stubborn canon
Core Text:
Engaging canonical western texts with essays by Marilynne Robinson and Ta-Nehisi Coates
Abstract:
Today's recognition of the disproportionate representation of white male authors in the canonical texts of western culture presents a significant challenge to student formation. The wisdom of western culture is a rich inheritance that belongs to everyone regardless of race or gender yet its texts historically under-represent a majority of its heirs. This paper explores a pedagogical approach that aims to bring greater representation from the present to our engagement with key texts of the past. This paper explores the practice over four semester of utilizing essays by Marilynne Robinson and Ta-Nehisi Coates in teaching Perspectives on Western Culture at Boston College, with the aim of further the discussion about pedagogical possibilities of addressing this inherent challenge.

Conference Panel Proposal

Title of panel: Formation for Social Justice: Contemplation
Six sentence description or abstract of panel:


Proposal Number: 115
Date: 2020-01-16
Paper Title: “Open the books, if you wish to be free”: Education and Enfranchisement
Core Text:
Federalist Papers
Abstract:
The 1943 speech (from which above quote cited) given by failed Republican nominee Wendall Willkie is typical of many expressions of concern regarding the relation between the humanities and liberty during and directly after WW2. Josef Pieper, the New Critics, and other mid-20th century sources responded to the global trauma by strongly tying humanities education to civic engagement. Drawing the Federalist Papers and Tara Westover’s recent Educated (and referring to a core texts program at my community college in the City University of New York system), I’ll explore whether the liberal arts play a merely functionalist role, or more, to an enfranchised citizenry.


Proposal Number: 114
Date: 2020-01-16
Paper Title: Digital Deep Diving into Core Texts
Core Text:
The Book of Genesis
Abstract:
In an age when digital media and big data increasingly dominate public, private, and intellectual discourse, core programs, which are dedicated to general education through small seminar discussions and close reading of classic (sometimes ancient) texts, risk being marginalized and seeming outdated. Thus, when Boston University adopted new general education requirements, including a requirement in what it calls Digital/Multimedia Expression, it posed a challenge to BU’s Core, which needs to fulfill gen ed in order to remain a viable pathway for undergraduates. This paper describes how BU’s Core developed two new courses to meet this challenge, with a focus on one particular section, in which students semantically encode a portion of the Book of Genesis with eXtensible Markup Language, an approach centered on collaborative close reading and culminating in a tool that can be used and modified by future cohorts of students. Broadly, this paper addresses logistical hurdles and strategies for overcoming them, arguing that “new media” and computer-assisted analysis can serve the traditional goals of a Great Books curriculum.


Proposal Number: 113
Date: 2020-01-16
Paper Title: Metamorphosis and Metaphor in Vergil’s Eclogue VI and Ovid’s Metamorphoses I.
Core Text:
Vergil, Eclogue Vi, and Ovid, Metamorphoses I
Abstract:
This paper will consider how Vergil and Ovid, as poets and metaphysicians, use metamorphosis and metaphor to unfold the cosmos.

Conference Panel Proposal

Title of panel: Metamorphosis
Six sentence description or abstract of panel:
A Panel on Metamorphosis as a literary device, a biological and political phenomenon, a part of the cosmological process, and an expression of transgression and freedom. Panelists will draw their instances of metamorphosis from Aeschylus, Thucydides, Vergil, Ovid, Dante, and Shakespeare. Other names for the device and the event, when it occurs, are Transformation, Transubstantiation, Qualitative Change, Shape-shifting, Species Change, Regime Change, and Plato’s and Aristotle’s term for it: ἀλλοίωσις.


Proposal Number: 112
Date: 2020-01-16
Paper Title: Marx & Spencer: Nationalism and the Question of Human Nature
Core Text:
Herbert Spencer's The Man Versus the State
Abstract:
How do we put nationalism into conversation with the bigger questions addressed throughout the core text sequence? A generation of scholars in the 1970s and 1980s looked to reconcile nationalism to Marx, exploring how nationalism might have met an ontological need that Marx failed to fully anticipate. Today, the question of nationalism begs further exploration and this paper discusses Herbert Spencer's assumptions about nature, especially his advocacy for unregulated capitalism and its connection to the social applications of Darwin's theory of natural selection. It explores how his location of progress in the "survival of the fittest" offered a vision of human transcendence that became particular, materialistic, and non-rational, lacking any of the optimistic idealism of his Romantic forebears.


Proposal Number: 84
Date: 2020-01-16
Paper Title: On the purposes of traditional Chinese astronomy
Core Text:
Confucius' Writings on Astronomy; Colin Ronan, “The sciences of the heavens: Astronomy” in The Shorter Science & Civilisation in China, Vol. 2.
Abstract:
Traditional Chinese calendars recorded celestial phenomena such as solar positions on the ecliptic, these positions determine the seasons, and thus Chinese farmers learnt from the calendars what to do such as sow or harvest in which solar term. Yet, this cannot explain an insatiable demand for increased precision in calendar compilations, the Chinese have produced more than 100 official calendars over two millennia since the Han dynasty. In contrast to Western astronomers who had attempted to construct the model of the universe, ancient Chinese astronomers provided the emperor with knowledge of celestial phenomena for all civil services and ritual practices to be performed in accordance with celestial rhythms. Thus, a comparison of the purposes of traditional Chinese astronomy with those of Western astronomy reveals the influences of political ideology in ancient Confucian culture on the latter.


Proposal Number: 111
Date: 2020-01-15
Paper Title: Poetry's Grasp of Being
Core Text:
Plato, Republic
Abstract:
Socrates in Plato's Republic is famous as a harsh critic of poetry and the poets. Discerning readers often suspect that he is more favorably disposed to poetry and to at least some poets than he appears to be on the surface. My paper will examine the textual evidence that Socrates is indeed so disposed, considering poetry's role in education and in guiding the soul to "grasp being"--and not just poetry denuded of its usual trappings, but full-blooded poetry. In the process, I intend to show how the Republic itself outlines the poetic apology Socrates calls for in Book 10.


Proposal Number: 110
Date: 2020-01-15
Paper Title: Music as a Liberal Art in Plato, Aristotle, and Boethius
Core Text:
Timaeus, Politics, and De Institutione Musica
Abstract:
In what sense is music a liberal art? This question leads back to the question of the nature of music itself. This paper will explore both questions through close readings of Plato’s Timaeus, Book 8 of Aristotle’s Politics, and De institutione musica by Boethius.


Proposal Number: 109
Date: 2020-01-15
Paper Title: Teaching the Trivium in Political Theory
Core Text:
Texts on theTrivium
Abstract:
This paper reflects on emphasizing logic, rhetoric, and grammar in an introduction to political theory course. Following the “Reinventing and Rejuvenating the Liberal Arts Seminar” significant changes were made in a western political thought class focused on liberty, justice, and the common good. Students were attracted to this approach that focused on the liberal arts as skills vital to the practical science of politics. However, at several places in the course the question of intrinsic value and the need for leisure was raised. Significant improvement was shown in writing which was stressed as a place where the liberal arts were critical. For everything that goes on to a syllabus, something must come off and I wonder about losing some of the readings on politics to consider the liberal arts. Also, I have some concerns about losing the sense of historical order in a course that still generally moved from Ancient to Medieval to Modern political thought.


Proposal Number: 108
Date: 2020-01-15
Paper Title: Transformations of Power in bell hooks' "Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center"
Core Text:
"Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center"
Abstract:
bell hooks' 1984 "Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center" presented a radical feminist approach that advocated for a dismantling of all systems of social, political and domestic oppressiions. It insisted on the intersections of race and class with gender for a theory and practice that could represent the struggles and aspirations of diverse women. Its claims are unabashedly revolutionary; its impassioned energies seek to reconstitute power and reconfigure social relations. My paper will discuss the continuing relevance of this "radical" feminist vision at present -- both in America and globally.


Proposal Number: 107
Date: 2020-01-15
Paper Title: Re-re-reading the Divine Comedy
Core Text:
Divine Comedy
Abstract:
In the Divine Comedy, the pilgrim Dante looks back twice from different spheres of the Paradiso to review the journey he has thus far undertaken. The narrator's description of this journey, and his memory of the journey before narrating it, multiply the effects of this repetition. By presenting the reader with this image of the process of reading, re-reading, and re-re-reading, Dante the poet and inventor of the Commedia shows his readers the importance of returning again and again to lessons which have already been experienced, because such a return makes possible a deeper and fuller understanding of those experiences.


Proposal Number: 106
Date: 2020-01-15
Paper Title: Civil Rights: Reconstruction or Resurrection?
Core Text:
Letter from Birmingham Jail
Abstract:
Critical Theory in its various iterations has been an important contribution of the Frankfurt School, shedding light on different forms of oppression in Western Society. More recently, the theoretical framework of Intersectionality helpfully raises the issue of potential layers of injustices one might experience as a single individual. But are approaches to viewing all of life and literature, such as Intersectionality, effectively replacing one oppressive hierarchy with another? As one set of injustices is righted, are others committed? With the relative success of the Civil Rights Movement not too far behind, it is surprising to see such a total departure from its underlying assumptions and aspirations toward that of the plethora of movements decrying injustice in recent years. There are essentially two different paths of thought through the Great Books represented here: on the one side, there are figures like Machiavelli, Hume, Marx, and others, while on the other side are figures like Aristotle, Aquinas, Kant, and King. The question will be, which of these two paths leads to liberty and justice for all? While not delegitimizing the various claims of injustice, this paper will survey these two paths with an eye towards which might better address such injustices in a pluralistic and multicultural democracy.


Proposal Number: 105
Date: 2020-01-15
Paper Title: Environmental masculinity in John Burroughs
Core Text:
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Selected Essays
Abstract:
This paper will explore the embedded notions of American masculinity as they appear in Emerson's essays, especially 'Nature' and 'Self-Reliance'. It will explore the role that an ecologically-informed being in the world plays in terms of gender constructs, and how this has shaped the future of environmentalism. At a time of environmental crisis, now more than ever do we need to be teaching students the traditions and trajectories that our ideas about nature have come from. This paper will link that history with that of the 'masculine' as exemplified in Lynn White Jr's essay 'The Historical Roots of our Environmental Crisis'. Perhaps the environmental past is more present now than ever.


Proposal Number: 104
Date: 2020-01-15
Paper Title: Aristotle vs. Newman on Liberal Education
Core Text:
Aristotle's Politics / Newman's Idea of the University
Abstract:
Many received ideas about liberal education derive from John Henry Newman, who claimed he was following Aristotle in his discussion of liberal education in The Idea of a University. However, a close reading of The Politics shows that Newman distorted Aristotle's thought in important ways. To more clearly understand the nature of liberal education, we have to read both thinkers side by side, to take apart Newman's interpretation of Aristotle, and to retrieve the understanding of liberal education in Book VIII of The Politics.


Proposal Number: 103
Date: 2020-01-15
Paper Title: Impressionists, Susan Sontag, and Liberal Arts
Core Text:
Impressionist paintings to be named and "Against Interpretation"
Abstract:
Susan Sontag called for an erotics of art, one that would lovingly address the surface of works of art, particularly film. But she never actually developed such an art. Impressionist painting served as a transition between classical painting norms and the later norms of modern painting. Might something be gained towards developing Sontag's unformulated art? Might it be possible that such an art would be a liberal art?


Proposal Number: 102
Date: 2020-01-15
Paper Title: Sappho: Poet, Philosopher, Performer
Core Text:
Sappho's Fragments
Abstract:
Sappho's lyric poems are often considered unwieldly to teach, especially to first year studnets in great books programs, because of their fragmentary nature. Some argue that the deeply personal voice of the lyric "I" tends to inspire confessional outpourings from students rather than critical, academic essays. My paper will explore the importance of and value in including Sappho, one of the only female voices from antiquity, in a canon of core texts. In a world dominated by men, Sappho transgressively rethinks masculine virtues of military prowess and offers a philosophical account of love, going beyond the reflections of her male contemporaries.


Proposal Number: 101
Date: 2020-01-15
Paper Title: Metamorphoses of Gaia in Aeschylus’ Oresteia
Core Text:
Oresteia
Abstract:
Can the earth be fluid? Snakes, with their undulations and skin-shedding powers of renewal suggest as much, at least to poets and dreamers. This paper will consider the unseen figure of Gaia in Aeschylus’ Oresteia and her resurgence in the dreamlife of Clytaemestra.

Conference Panel Proposal

Title of panel: Metamorphosis
Six sentence description or abstract of panel:
A Panel on Metamorphosis as a literary device, a biological and political phenomenon, a part of the cosmological process, and an expression of transgression and freedom. Panelists will draw their instances of metamorphosis from Aeschylus, Thucydides, Vergil, Ovid, Dante, and Shakespeare. Other names for the device and the event, when it occurs, are Transformation, Transubstantiation, Qualitative Change, Shape-shifting, Species Change, Regime Change, and Plato’s and Aristotle’s term for it: ἀλλοίωσις.


Proposal Number: 100
Date: 2020-01-15
Paper Title: Is Hamlet a Tragedy? Forays into the Terrain of Comedy
Core Text:
Hamlet
Abstract:
Hamlet is a play intimately concerned with the history of the English stage, directly referring to plays from the Cycle Dramas through to concerns about the practices of acting troops contemporary with Shakespeare. Taking its interest in the history of plays seriously, and considering the atmosphere of identity-crisis which imbues the whole play ("Who's there?" through "Draw breath in this harsh world / to tell my story") I want to inquire into the question of Hamlet's own genre. The insights of Louise Cowan and other theorists may suggest that there are more essentially comic elements, and lacunae where one would expect essentially tragic elements. My conclusion will lay out a case that Hamlet might be an Infernal Comedy.


Proposal Number: 99
Date: 2020-01-15
Paper Title: Changing the World in Happiness: Dostoevsky's Heroes and Antiheroes
Core Text:
The Brothers Karamazov
Abstract:
Philosophical inquiry has questioned the value of happiness in creating a meaningful life. Indeed, some have seen the pursuit of happiness as potentially leading to complacency, as individuals adapt to oppressive circumstances rather than struggling against them, focusing instead on such minor pleasures as are available. Dostoevsky, however, challenges this dichotomy: rather than dramatizing the tension between a happy complacency and a dissatisfied rebellion, Dostoevsky’s opposes an activism rooted in unhappiness to the same drive rooted in a profound sense of the goodness of the world. Dostoevsky’s happiest characters are, paradoxically, the most effective in bringing change.


Proposal Number: 98
Date: 2020-01-15
Paper Title: Man’s Recollection of the Happy Life
Core Text:
Augustine's Confessions
Abstract:
In Book X of his _Confessions_, Augustine considers the very same paradox which baffled the mind of Socrates: A man "cannot search for what he knows––since he knows it, there is no need to search––nor for what he does not know, for he does not know what to look for" (Plato, _Meno_, 80e). The paradox is picked up by Augustine who concludes, as did Socrates, that the recognition of a thing is dependent upon the memory of that thing. Complete ignorance is therefore not possible, and all learning is a kind of remembering. Augustine goes further by considering man's recognition of the "happy life." Unlike the recognition of a lost item man does not need to have seen the happy life in order to long for the happy life. Memory of the happy life is not derived from sense experience. If recognition is dependent upon memory, and man is able to recognize the happy life, the happy life must exist in man's memory.  But what does this mean? How does a way of life reside in memory? What does it mean to recollect the happy life so as to recognize the happy life?  What are the necessary conditions for such recollection? And how might the answers to these questions clarify the project of Augustine’s _Confessions_ as a whole? This paper will attempt to answer these questions through a close reading of _Confessions_ Book X.


Proposal Number: 95
Date: 2020-01-15
Paper Title: Mama and Me Chronicles
Core Text:
Belonging by bell hooks
Abstract:
This is a scripted inquiry into the lives of rural African American women, mother and daughter. Themes of familial, cultural, and civic responsibilities intersect personal and academic desires. Questions of what and who is owed fealty, as well as who has paid the cost are raised.


Proposal Number: 94
Date: 2020-01-15
Paper Title: Social Justice and the Limits of Liberal Democracy
Core Text:
Locke, Second Treatise
Abstract:
The promotion of the common good requires that individuals sacrifice some of their self-interest. In liberal political theory this sacrifice is perforce kept to a minimum. Today's liberal democracies find themselves in a systematic crisis because liberal democratic political culture does not allow for the legitimate provision of the common good. Submitted for panel: Formation for Social Justice: Contemplation


Proposal Number: 93
Date: 2020-01-15
Paper Title: Exercising Our Moral Muscles
Core Text:
Nicomachean Ethics
Abstract:
In my version of the core course Perspectives on Western Culture students complete semester-long "moral exercise journals." Students are asked to cultivate a virtue following Aristotle's method in the Ethics - practice - within a modern context (e.g. using fewer plastic straws to cultivate generosity). They are also asked to reflect on this exercise as a whole, discussing their journey towards virtue and the effectiveness of Aristotle's methodology. I have found that students enjoy this assignment and gain not only a better understanding of Aristotelian virtue but also of how they can grow as better people through their own conscientious choices.


Proposal Number: 92
Date: 2020-01-15
Paper Title: Is it liberating to read Plato?
Core Text:
Plato's Gorgias
Abstract:
Much has been said about the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way to read a Platonic dialogue. This paper asks specifically whether a Platonic dialogue, in this case the Gorgias, can have a liberating power, understood in the philosophical sense. It borrows from Rowe’s Plato and the Art of Philosophical Writing (2007) the notion that a Platonic dialogue wants the reader to see things for ourselves, which oftentimes means that the reader is asked to relinquish certain preconceptions. The question is whether this model of reading Plato applies to the Gorgias and, if so, in what way reading Plato’s Gorgias can be said to have a liberating effect.


Proposal Number: 91
Date: 2020-01-15
Paper Title: Mama and Me Chronicles, Part 1
Core Text:
Belonging by bell hooks
Abstract:
This is a short play dealing offering insight into the challenges of African Americans woh are caregivers of culture as well as family.


Proposal Number: 90
Date: 2020-01-14
Paper Title: Augustine Versus Varro
Core Text:
Book 19 City of God
Abstract:
Everywhere in the City of God Augustine challenges the Roman scholar and writer Varro. This paper seeks to understand why this is so by analyzing the famous appeal to common goods and common peace in Book 19. In particular, Book 19 of the City of God places in relief a version of political order that Augustine finds incompatible with the Christian vision of politics. Yet, Augustine also finds reasons for encouragement and hope in the midst of these competing visions.


Proposal Number: 89
Date: 2020-01-14
Paper Title: Sellars, Hegel, and Self-consciousness
Core Text:
Phenomenology of Spirit, Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind
Abstract:
Wilfrid Sellars’s well known critique of the ‘Myth of the Given’ is often studied in relation to the influence of Kant on Sellars. But in addition to this, for a number of decades the influence of Hegel on Sellars has also been studied by scholars. Text-based treatments of this often start from by relating Sellars’s views to Hegel’s conception of sense-certainty in the Phenomenology of Spirit (PhS, 1807). Starting from this point, my paper will sketch the extent to which Sellars’s critique of the Myth of the Given can be related to Hegel’s famous narrative of the emergence of desire and self-consciousness in PhS.


Proposal Number: 88
Date: 2020-01-14
Paper Title: Philosophy, Economics, and Aristotle's Liberal Care for the Human Good
Core Text:
Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, Politics
Abstract:
What is Aristotle’s economic teaching? Though Aristotle’s explicit passages about what constitutes “economics” to contemporary readers are sparse in his Nicomachean Ethics and Politics, his teaching is complete and comprehensive. One way this is evident is through Aristotle’s use of terms related to the household (oikia), all of which show the foundation of his economic teaching is his philosophy of the human good that preserves the liberating nature of the contemplative life in all human things.


Proposal Number: 87
Date: 2020-01-14
Paper Title: Plutarch’s “Life of Caesar”: Empire, Populism, and Post-Constitutional Rule
Core Text:
Plutarch, Parallel Lives
Abstract:
Rome is known as the eternal city, no less for its longevity, but also for its enduring political influence. The Roman republic, certainly, has inspired the cause of self-government throughout history, including the United States. Plutarch in the “life of Caesar” treats the Roman empire as problematic and corrupting of Roman virtue. The key to understanding Plutarch’s criticism of the empire is Caesar’s populist politics, which might provide a sober lesson for the student of modern politics.


Proposal Number: 86
Date: 2020-01-14
Paper Title: The Role of the Impartial Spectator in Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments
Core Text:
Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments
Abstract:
The paper will argue that Smith means by "the impartial spectator" something like a stance from which we make moral judgments, one in which we try to "imagine away" our own partialities, prejudices, and extraneous emotions. I will explore how this is supposed to relate to the sympathetic response itself, to contribute to the universality of moral judgments, to operate in moral judgments both about others and about oneself, and to relate to general rules and conscience.


Proposal Number: 85
Date: 2020-01-14
Paper Title: Should we strive to come back to Ithaca?
Core Text:
Odyssey
Abstract:
Should we strive to come back to Ithaca, to the place where we were once happy? Since things in the outer world tend to evolve in ways that quite differ from what we keep in our memories, shouldn’t we just resign ourselves to the fact that our happy past (the places, the people, the emotions, the experiences...) is forever lost? Quite the opposite. Because a man who truly loves something or someone (a person, a place, a home) doesn’t want it/her to remain unchanged.


Proposal Number: 83
Date: 2020-01-14
Paper Title: Using Core Texts in Animal Studies
Core Text:
Aristotle, The Bible, Montaigne, Descartes, Darwin
Abstract:
The study of core texts needs to be expanded to adapt to our changing world by encompassing greater diversity. I will discuss how I use classic texts in my course The Western Perception of Animals from Antiquity to the Present, which examines the burgeoning post-humanist field of Animal Studies. Most notably, I will discuss how I use Aristotle, The Bible, Montaigne, Descartes, and Darwin to illustrate changing attitudes toward animals in Western culture. Scholars at ACTC have discussed ways to include women and non-European writers in the core--now it is time to advocate inclusion and justice for animals as well.


Proposal Number: 82
Date: 2020-01-13
Paper Title: On Transgressing Unjust Laws
Core Text:
Plato's Crito
Abstract:
In Plato's Crito, Socrates explains his reasons for accepting his death sentence despite his ability to escape and his view that the sentence is unjust. Socrates's reasons are meant to be general reasons why we should obey the laws of the land even when they are unjust. After presenting Socrates's reasons for obeying unjust laws, this paper argues that none is persuasive. The paper concludes with application to our present-day context.


Proposal Number: 81
Date: 2020-01-13
Paper Title: On Pyramus and Thisbe
Core Text:
Ovid's Metamorphoses
Abstract:
Pyramus and Thisbe are two seemingly star-crossed lovers in Ovid's *Metamorphosis*. All is not as it seems, however, in Ovid's tale. Or so I will argue in this paper. Both of the main characters are in love, but one's desire is strangely satisfied, albeit posthumously, while the other's, apparently, is not. There may be some implication in all of this for Ovid’s own desires in his storytelling.

Conference Panel Proposal

Title of panel: Metamorphosis
Six sentence description or abstract of panel:
Forthcoming, from David Sweet.


Proposal Number: 80
Date: 2020-01-13
Paper Title: The City, The Man, and The Good Life
Core Text:
Plato's Laws
Abstract:
What is the purpose of a city's laws in Plato's Laws? I will argue that the laws, for Plato, must be aimed at the common good of the city rather than the private interest of individuals. The laws that govern the city must not, however, have the mere preservation of that city as their final aim. Rather, the laws of Plato's city in speech must aim outside the city – towards justice and the cultivation of virtue among its citizens.


Proposal Number: 78
Date: 2020-01-13
Paper Title: Great Books and Great Citizens: Politics and Education in the Thought of Robert Hutchins
Core Text:
The Great Conversation: The Substance of a Liberal Education
Abstract:
The modern American Liberal Arts movement came about, to a great extent, in response to progressive and utilitarian proposals for education. One of the principle objectives of progressive educational reform was the creation of a new society and a new political order and therefore, for the progressives, politics and education were intimately tied. So those responding to these progressive proposals saw themselves as obligated to rearticulate the relationship between politics and a liberal understanding of education. This paper examines the view of one of the leaders of the nascent modern American Liberal Arts movement, Robert Hutchins, regarding this relationship between politics and education.


Proposal Number: 77
Date: 2020-01-13
Paper Title: Bringing Shadow into Light: Carl Jung's Liber Novus and the Spiritual Anxieties of Modern Life
Core Text:
Carl Jung's The Red Book (Liber Novus)
Abstract:
The work of Carl Jung has influenced thought for over a century, from psychologists, to academics, to personal development specialists, to New Age spiritual movements. Jung’s work on exploring the unconscious through active imagination, shadow work, and individuation has provided models for the ways in which people can understand their relationship with archetypal material and make sense of their individual and collective experiences. Jung remains a controversial figure to many, his most edgy work being Liber Novus (2009), popularly known as The Red Book, within which he explored his own unconscious and detailed what was revealed to him from the inner depths of his psyche. In what might be considered modern-day mysticism explored through the lens of scientific skepticism, the book typifies the spiritual anxieties of modern life, as individuals attempt to make sense of the world within the context of rival and contradictory explanatory models. Jung, Carl. 2009.The Red Book: Liber Novus. Ed. and Trans. Sonu Shamdasani. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.


Proposal Number: 76
Date: 2020-01-13
Paper Title: Cicero, the City, and the Objects of Statesmanship
Core Text:
Cicero, On the Republic
Abstract:
Early in Cicero’s dialogue On the Republic, Tubero entreats Scipio, the primary interlocutor, to discuss with him the reported appearance of a second sun. Scipio is on holiday from his political duties to the Roman Republic and is eager to discuss this supposed astronomical phenomena, until his friend and mentor Laelius intercedes and reminds Scipio that even on holiday there are more pressing matters to attend to than scientific speculation, particularly considering that men are powerless to intercede with the heavens. Rome is divided upon questions of justice, and as Laelius later says, there is no republic when there is no agreement on right. Through this exchange, Cicero indicates that statesmanship should be directed at those things that affect the relationships of citizens to each other and over which men can exert meaningful influence.


Proposal Number: 75
Date: 2020-01-13
Paper Title: Situating Play: On the Significance of the Non-Serious
Core Text:
Homo Ludens, Man and Games, Play as Symbol of the World; Heraclitus
Abstract:
Johann Huizinga’s renowned Homo Ludens of 1938 makes the famously provocative argument that play – generously defined – is the origin of key aspects of human culture. It is also clear that Huizinga intends to suggest something like an ethical significance to play, even if this is only vaguely developed and primarily evident when he makes claims about where true play is lacking. But if this is true, on what grounds could such an ethical or proto-ethical significance of play be asserted? My essay explores this question through a close analysis of Huizinga’s own claims about the primordial status of the play-instinct, as well as through an examination of related claims in Les Jeux et les Hommes by Roger Caillois. However, I argue that it is through the suggestions made by Eugen Fink in his Spiel als Weltsymbol for a thoughtful return to the gnomic pronouncement of Heraclitus regarding the “play” of the aion that we can begin to think through what a ethos of play might mean. Today, play is present nearly everywhere: sports, videogames, and even the “gamification” of learning mark the everyday experience of people young and old. Does this phenomenon indicate a path toward a more ethical existence? Or does it mask something deeper, something more fundamental to who we are, and more critical to what we may choose to become?


Proposal Number: 74
Date: 2020-01-13
Paper Title: A place of their own: locus amoenus as poetic place construction
Core Text:
Idylls (Theocritus) Bucolics (Virgil)
Abstract:
The conference invitation to consider studies and texts that imagine the “symbiosis of rural and urban life” naturally recommends the genre of pastoral, and in particular the construction of place at the head of the ancient Mediterranean classics: the Greek Theocritus and his Roman appropriation by Virgil. This paper considers the multivalent construction of the locus amoenus as a negotiation of space between rural and urban zones, between real and ideal, between actual and poetic. The study proposes that Virgil’s adoption of the mode idealizes not the countryside as such, but rather an ideal space – and the only space – in which discourse about poetry can truly take place.


Proposal Number: 73
Date: 2020-01-13
Paper Title: The Good and the Holy: Aristotle’s Argument for Contemplation in Nicomachean Ethics
Core Text:
Nicomachean Ethics
Abstract:
In Book X of Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle explains why intellectual contemplation is a superior and more fulfilling virtue than the moral-social virtues, for example, courage, temperance, and even justice. Moral virtues are variable and change relative to their contexts, but contemplation recognizes and understands realities that are invariable and true regardless of our contexts, and, moreover, contemplation thinks the thoughts of the gods and thus is our most divine-like capacity. Even though Aristotle does not use the word holy, the word captures the unique and fulfilling experience of the contemplation of God. Therefore, we can reason (at least according to Aristotle) that since a virtuous life is a good human life because it experiences the aim of human existence, the experience of the holy in contemplation is the fulfillment of the good life.


Proposal Number: 72
Date: 2020-01-12
Paper Title: Aristotle on Anger: Its Virtuous and Vicious States
Core Text:
Nicomachean Ethics & Rhetoric
Abstract:
Aristotle’s longest discussion of the virtue and vices of anger occurs in Book 4 of the Nicomachean Ethics (1125b26-112610). Although that account is insightful, it is by no means exhaustive, and leaves one with a number of questions. This paper considers what Aristotle has said about anger in some of his other writings (e.g., Topics, Rhetoric, and Eudemian Ethics) in an attempt to gain a greater understanding of his views on the virtue and vices of anger in the Nicomachean Ethics Book 4.


Proposal Number: 71
Date: 2020-01-11
Paper Title: Approaches to Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in the Rule of Benedict
Core Text:
Rule of Benedict
Abstract:
The Benedictine Rule articulates moral principles to guide responsible use, enjoyment and cultivation of the earth's natural goods. My presentation traces some of the explicit and implicit ways it does that, with special attention to principles that may guide adaptation to and mitigation of the harmful effects of global climate change. Benedict sought to rescue souls by restoring Christian virtues threatened by "environmental degradation" of a most fundamental sort. My presentation clarifies the connection between the degradation that terrified Benedict and the degradation that terrifies us. It also foregrounds ways that Benedict thought we might rescue souls by restoring, among other things, the justice God intends to regulate our relations with all created things.

Conference Panel Proposal

Title of panel: Climate Change: Rescue and Restoration
Six sentence description or abstract of panel:
Our panel will focus on problems of environmental injustice, ecological degradation, and the guilt and disorder/rescue and restoration referenced in the conference theme.


Proposal Number: 70
Date: 2020-01-11
Paper Title:
Core Text:

Abstract:

Conference Panel Proposal

Title of panel: Climate Change: Rescue and Restoration
Six sentence description or abstract of panel:
Our panel will focus on problems of environmental injustice, ecological degradation, and the guilt and disorder/rescue and restoration referenced in the conference theme. I attach my abstract; Betsy Dobbins and Martin Tracey will follow shortly with theirs. A Passion for Rescue The 2020 ACTC conference proposal references injustice and a “too-human song of guilt and disorder, of rescue and restoration.” In no area does this so clearly play out as in environmental degradation, climate change in particular. Particularly in this region, beset by catastrophic hurricanes and accelerating sea-level rise, citizens must decide what can be safeguarded, what will be sacrificed. Often, efforts at restoration can seem fruitless: cleaning up millions of tons of plastic in the ocean, salvaging fragments of coral in hopes of reseeding reefs for some distant future when they can survive, saving the few koalas who escaped out of the billion animals killed by the Australian wildfires, holding off rising seas and shoring up coasts from the Louisiana Delta to Manhattan and Venice. Environmental writers since Thoreau and Leopold have pondered rescue and restoration, and that conversation continues with sharper poignancy every day among modern eco-critics. Liz Cunningham, author of Ocean Country, describes how through “active hope,” everyday people committed to environmental preservation can find a “passion for rescue.” Even in the face of increasing damage, despite the guilt and chaos so many feel, she and others argue for the importance of rescue and restoration to inspire people with the possibility that we and many of the creatures and ecosystems we love may survive and to some degree avoid the worst impacts of the nascent environmental apocalypse.


Proposal Number: 69
Date: 2020-01-11
Paper Title: “You are Dearer to me if you Receive my Advice”: Cicero on Love and Education
Core Text:
Cicero's On Obligations
Abstract:
Love can be measured, but only in terms of time – especially time spent teaching. So it was with Marcus Tullius Cicero’s famous letter to his son, which we know as On Obligations. Here, the great statesman-philosopher of Rome shows us what it means to teach in a spirit of charity. It is not a philosophic treatise aimed at cosmic speculation or political reform, but a transmission of the greatest gift that the old can offer the young: their wisdom about the right way to live. How might this text model for us what it really means to teach, ensure the reception of our students, and show everyone what is truly valuable in the content – distinguishing between what is truly good and truly useful? This essay will explore these questions, and develop a theory of the role of charity in education and what it means to invest in our students.


Proposal Number: 68
Date: 2020-01-10
Paper Title: Reading Eastern Critics of the West in 2020: Solzhenitsyn and Legutko in Conversation
Core Text:
Solzhenitsyn, "Harvard Commencement Address"
Abstract:
Core Texts possess the power to speak from another cultural perspective to shed light on a reader’s contemporary situation. This paper will reflect on this power for Americans confronted by warnings from Eastern European critics. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in his writings warned about the ethical and spiritual dangers facing the West (as in his Harvard Commencement Address) as well as the temptation to self and social deceit (as in his famous essay “Live Not By Lies”). These themes have been picked up and sharpened by the Polish philosopher Ryszard Legutko in his book The Demon of Democracy (English translation, 2016), which extends Solzhenitsyn’s critique, thereby clarifying significant cultural issues in the contemporary moment.


Proposal Number: 67
Date: 2020-01-10
Paper Title: On Transgressing Unjust Laws
Core Text:
Plato's Crito
Abstract:
In Plato's Crito, Socrates explains his reasons for accepting his death sentence despite his ability to escape and his view that the sentence is unjust. Socrates's reasons are meant to be general reasons why we should obey the laws of the land even when they are unjust. After presenting Socrates's reasons for obeying unjust laws, this paper argues that none is persuasive. The paper concludes with application to our present-day context.


Proposal Number: 66
Date: 2020-01-10
Paper Title: On Leisure, Liberal Education, and Citizenship: Aristotle, de Tocqueville and Anna Julia Cooper in Conversation
Core Text:
Politics; Democracy in America; A Voice from the South
Abstract:
For much of human history, persons of low socio-economic status have had little or no access to leisure, liberal arts education and the full exercise of reflective and active citizenship. I consider how ideas about who should have access to these goods has changed over time by comparing the writings of Aristotle, de Tocqueville and Cooper. After considering all three writers, the essay concludes by encouraging us to consider current inequalities in access to leisure, liberal education and full citizenship and asks how we might educate both the privileged and the disadvantaged differently if we were to take Cooper’s approach which argues for education that cultivates the mind and nourishes the soul for persons up and down the social ladder.


Proposal Number: 64
Date: 2020-01-10
Paper Title: Higher Education and Democracy: Revisiting Allan Bloom on Plato's Democratic Man
Core Text:
Plato's Republic
Abstract:
In 1987's The Closing of the American Mind, Allan Bloom seemed to suggest that by not sufficiently opening young people to what they need to know, "higher education has failed democracy," and so he seemed to begin the critiques of academia--and calls for its reform--that continue today. But in this paper I argue that Bloom is more of a critic of democracy than of higher education, and that the key to his book is his reading of Plato's account of democratic man in Book VIII of the Republic. That reading shows why, in Bloom's eyes, citizens of democracy as such tend to be unsuited for what higher education at its best can offer. Yet Bloom does not call for the reform of either higher education or democracy but instead presents the spectacle of each for our contemplation if, somehow, we can become able to see them.


Proposal Number: 63
Date: 2020-01-10
Paper Title: Cacciaguida’s Speech in the Divine Comedy: Praise as a Proper Expression of Language in Paradise
Core Text:
The Divine Comedy
Abstract:
While Dante argues in De Vulgaria Eloquentia that language is particular to rational human beings because through language one person's thoughts are made sensible to another, in the Divine Comedy, the souls in paradise intellect the thoughts of one another without speaking, seemingly making language unnecessary. However, a portion of Cacciaguida’s speech in paradise is incomprehensible to Dante and the reader, indicating that speech is indeed proper to paradise. In contrast with Nimrod’s infernal speech and Adam’s account of natural language, Cacciaguida’s language expresses what the souls in paradise intellect through their vision of God as opposed to the knowledge they arrive at through reason. Furthermore, because paradisaical language expresses not knowledge but intellection, Dante indicates that language ultimately exists for the expression of love toward the being of another through praise.


Proposal Number: 46
Date: 2020-01-10
Paper Title: Contextualizing Injustice in Otsuka's When the Emperor Was Divine
Core Text:
POTUS Primary Documents, incl., Executive Order 9066
Abstract:
This paper suggests a pedagogical model for teaching Julie Otsuka’s novel When the Emperor Was Divine about the internment of the Japanese in the 1940s. Primary documents from the era such as Executive Order 9066 introduce students to the historical and cultural setting. The poignantly multivalent novel introduces five perspectives within one family’s experience of incarceration. Additional primary documents such as belated presidential apologies underscore how the lingering past intersects with ongoing struggles for justice.


Proposal Number: 62
Date: 2020-01-09
Paper Title: Edmund Burke's Redefinition of Nationality
Core Text:
Tracts on the Popery Laws
Abstract:
In this paper I intend to examine Edmund Burke’s writings on Ireland—primarily his posthumously published Tracts on the Popery Laws, but some of his speeches and letters as well—in order to determine what we might learn from his argument for the inclusion of Irish Catholics among Britons, which I take to be part of his appeal to a national self-understanding that would demand just treatment of vulnerable minorities. Burke’s particularly supple perception of nationality—as constructed, evolving, and revisable—was meant to guide Britain in the expanded sphere the nation occupied as a global power. Burke’s thoughts may prove instructive at a time when conceptions of nationality are becoming alarmingly narrow.


Proposal Number: 61
Date: 2020-01-09
Paper Title: Simone Weil on Patriotism as Compassion in Simone Weil's "The Need for Roots"
Core Text:
Simone Weil's "The Need for Roots"
Abstract:
This paper presents a brief account of Simone Weil's conception of a patriotism inspired by a love of one's country as both a "life-giving agent" and a "precious, fragile and perishable object", a patriotism of "compassion" that is itself presented as an alternative to a patriotism inspired by what Weil took to be deceitful notions of "national grandeur". The paper presents the basic elements of Weil's later political thought in "The Need for Roots", the elements that provide the conceptual context for her account of patriotism. These include her account of the priority of obligations over rights; her notion of the "eternal destiny" of the individual human being; her account of the human "need" for "rootedness" in this world; and her account of the limited but real value of "collectivities" such as one's country or native land.


Proposal Number: 60
Date: 2020-01-08
Paper Title: On the Contemplative Desire for Action: Xenophon on the Tragic Stage of Human Greatness
Core Text:
Xenophon's Hellenica
Abstract:
In his continuation of Thucydides account of the Peloponnesian War, Xenophon's Hellenica depicts a human situation driven by men of great virtue whose character shines on the dramatic stage of war and grand politics. As Xenophon describes the stunning actions of men such as Alcibiades, Lysander, and Agesilaus, the reader is drawn with the author into the deepest reflection on the relation of the claims of the contemplative life and the active life as the highest human possibility, with the author through the telling of this story inspiring the reader with his own contemplative eros for action. Yet even as he inspires the reader with the desire to imitate the virtues of the great heroes of the war, Xenophon reveals the ultimate tragedy for Greece and for humanity of such admirable greatness and the stage it requires.

Conference Panel Proposal

Title of panel: Human Virtue and the Admirable Greatness of Tragedy
Six sentence description or abstract of panel:
This panel will raise the question whether the human desire for greatness through the cultivation and practice of heroic virtues leads to the human good or to human misery. Panelists will write on Thucydides Peloponnesian War, Xenophon's Hellenica, and Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics and Politics. The panel theme will also open up the issue of the competing claims of the contemplative and the active life as well as the issue of the nature of the human and its relation to the political. We welcome additional panelists writing on the subject of human greatness and tragedy, whether ancient or modern writers


Proposal Number: 59
Date: 2020-01-08
Paper Title: The Relation Between Phronr a Comedy?
Core Text:
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics
Abstract:
When reading about the Intellectual Virtues in Book VI of the Nicomachean Ethics, it would seem that prudence (phronesis) does not play a role in theoria. If this were so, would this be a tragedy or a comedy? A closer look, however, discloses a close connection between the two. Why would this be so, and why would Aristotle obscure this connection?

Conference Panel Proposal

Title of panel: The Excellence of Human Virtue and the Admirable Greatness of Tragedy
Six sentence description or abstract of panel:
See Frank Rohmer, FRohmer@austincollege.edu


Proposal Number: 57
Date: 2020-01-07
Paper Title: Aristotle Blushes: Reconsidering the Humanities PHD
Core Text:
"Nicomachean Ethics," Aristotle
Abstract:
We humanists must reclaim the Aristotelian notion that knowledge of truth is primarily valuable for its own sake. According to Aristotle, only a life directed toward the contemplation of intellectual truth (theōria, or knowledge about unchangeable truths) and the pursuit of excellence or virtue (arête), seeks fulfillment with no pressing ulterior motive.Certainly, it is wise and just to inform possible PhD students of the unlikelihood of landing a tenure-track position. But, in the same breath, we should also describe the inherently enjoyable and rewarding process of taking five-to-seven years of life to dedicate oneself to the acquisition of knowledge for its own sake


Proposal Number: 56
Date: 2020-01-07
Paper Title: Liberal Education and Corrupting the Youth
Core Text:
Xenophon's APOLOGY OF SOCRATES TO THE JURY
Abstract:
In this paper, I will examine Socrates' response in Xenophon's APOLOGY to the "corrupting the youth" change. It is different in significant ways from the response Socrates offers in Plato's APOLOGY, especially inasmuch as it poses the question of the relationship between "expertise" and "democracy" much more starkly than the more familiar version of the defense speech. In treating this subject, I will also explore its relationship to the contemporary debate over the university: however seemingly unproblematical the claims of technical expertise are as they are made by, say, the STEM disciplines, the real question is whether, if, and how the humanities (and the claims of "expertise" made in those disciplines) "corrupt the youth."


Proposal Number: 55
Date: 2020-01-07
Paper Title: The LIberal Arts as the Possession of All
Core Text:
Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk
Abstract:
A great deal of water has passed under the bridge since the writing of the Souls of Black Folk. Leaving aside the worthwhile study of the long history since Du Bois, what can we learn from his classic about the emancipatory character of the search for truth? What might he say about various approaches to the liberal arts on the contemporary scene? What can he teach us about the enduring value of the liberal arts?


Proposal Number: 54
Date: 2020-01-06
Paper Title: Dante's Platonism
Core Text:
Dante Alighieri, Inferno
Abstract:
It is received opinion that Dante had little or no knowledge of Plato's thought, given that most of his dialogues were not published in Latin until the late 15th century. A number of Dante's images and themes, however, are reminiscent of Plato's works, including the overall structure of the Comedy itself, which as an ascent that begins beneath the earth in Hell, proceeds up Mount Purgatory, and reaches the realm of eternal light in Heaven, resembles the three great images in Republic VI and VII—the Sun, the Divided Line, and the Cave—although, indicatively, taken in a reverse order. How Dante might have had access to Plato's thought is suggested in Inferno 15, which is the key text for this paper. In this canto Dante encounters Brunetto Latino, who as a diplomat from Florence to the court of Alfonso X of Castile, had contact with the Toledo School of Translators, where Greek texts and Arabic translations of such texts were translated into Latin and vernacular Castilian. Dante addresses Brunetto as his teacher, and—remarkably—praises him for showing him “how man makes himself eternal,” a profoundly Platonic conception.


Proposal Number: 53
Date: 2020-01-05
Paper Title: Job and the Ecologist
Core Text:
Hebrew Bible, Job; Sand County Almanac and Essays from Round River
Abstract:
“One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds," says Aldo Leopold in his essay from Round River. This talk explores connections between woundedness, including "guilt and disorder... rescue and restoration," as stated in the Conference Theme, from the perspectives of Job in the Hebrew Bible and modern ecologist Aldo Leopold. The two share a vision of a world in which humans are not the center of creation, in which traditional wisdom must be replaced by a new understanding of our place.


Proposal Number: 52
Date: 2020-01-03
Paper Title: Ibn Tufayl’s Hayy Ibn Yaqzan and the Foundations of the Natural Sciences
Core Text:
Ibn Tufayl’s Hayy Ibn Yaqzan
Abstract:
Ibn Tufayl’s Hayy Ibn Yaqzan describes the intellectual growth and development of a solitary autochthonic child living in a sort of earthly paradise. This 12th century novel had enormous impact on subsequent European thought in fields ranging from philosophy to psychology to popular literature. This paper explores Tufayl’s presentation of the relations between empirical observation, reason, and revelation, particularly with respect to natural science, and the insights this may provide to anyone interested in the mental and spiritual development of our youth.


Proposal Number: 51
Date: 2020-01-03
Paper Title: "My heart is not a mirror": Personal Discovery through Ancient Chinese Song
Core Text:
Shijing
Abstract:
“My heart is not a mirror, / To reflect what others will. / . . . My heart is not a mat; / It cannot be folded away”: with such clear-cut images and yet complex emotion, the songs of the Shijing speak to us today. Through close reading, memorization, and imitation of this classic text of ancient China, our students discover new ways of approaching their own struggles and losses. This paper will analyze two of these songs – at least one of which is spoken from the perspective of a woman – and then demonstrate how they have contributed to specific students’ personal understanding.


Proposal Number: 50
Date: 2020-01-02
Paper Title: Both a Divine Plan and Freedom: Providence in Democracy in America
Core Text:
Democracy in America
Abstract:
Tocqueville scholars have paid a great deal of attention to Tocqueville's view of religion in Democracy in America and its relationship with democracy, yet comparatively little attention has been paid to his notion of Providence in the same work. Though Tocqueville mentions Providence only a few times in Democracy in America, it constitutes a critical part of the discussion in the author's Introduction and the concluding chapters of each volume, rendering it a key concept in the frame of the work as a whole. Examining the discussions of Providence within Tocqueville's best-known work, this paper argues that Tocqueville's notion of Providence is equivocal: it cannot be understood either as the orthodox Christian conception of Providence nor as putting a spiritual veneer on an otherwise secular view of history. This ambiguity is likely deliberate on Tocqueville's part, as it allows him to preserve both a role for divine action in the world as well as a healthy possibility for human liberty and independent action.


Proposal Number: 49
Date: 2020-01-02
Paper Title: Sometimes You Can't Go Home Again: Symptoms of PTSD in The Odyssey
Core Text:
The Odyssey
Abstract:
The Odyssey is, at its core, the story of a soldier returning home from battle. This paper will discuss Odysseus and the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. It is based on observations and discussions with veterans as part of a Humanities Texas project that utilized core texts to open up a dialogue about the journey home for modern-day veterans and discuss the similarities and differences of that experience. The phrase often repeated during our conversations was "sometimes you can't go home again..."


Proposal Number: 48
Date: 2020-01-02
Paper Title: Liberating Lear
Core Text:
Shakespeare, King Lear
Abstract:
Throughout 2017, the current occupant of the Oval Office was equated with King Lear, that character who is quite possibly Shakespeare’s least likable tragic hero. But many of us who teach the play think it his greatest tragedy – indeed, one of the most important and meaningful works in all of literature. This paper presents what are the crucial characteristics we should credit to the mostly fictional, ancient king of the Britons – points that seem (so far) not to be exhibited by the current U.S. President, and which therefore the equation of the two may obscure.


Proposal Number: 47
Date: 2020-01-01
Paper Title: A Third Solution to the Riddle of the Sphinx and the Universal Significance of Sophocles’ Three Theban Plays
Core Text:
Sophocles' three Theban plays
Abstract:
The riddle of the Sphinx was solved by Oedipus, and Oedipus thereby hastened his own tragic decline. Readers of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex recognize also a second solution to the riddle, a solution which Oedipus missed. When all three of Sophocles’ Theban plays are considered together, a third solution to the riddle emerges. This third solution makes clear how the original riddle is often not fully understood, and the third solution explains the unity of the dramatic arc across all three plays and captures a universal truth about the human condition.


Proposal Number: 45
Date: 2019-12-31
Paper Title: Nonviolent tension in Hamlet
Core Text:
Hamlet, Letter from Birmingham Jail
Abstract:
In his Letter from Birmingham Jail, Dr. King advocates for “a type of constructive nonviolent tension that is necessary for growth,” and defends its justice even if it should ultimately “precipitate violence.” I find this a helpful formulation for beginning to understand Shakespeare’s Hamlet, for Hamlet’s hesitation to kill Claudius is a sort of nonviolence, yet its outcome is certainly violent. Approaching Hamlet with this distinction between violence and nonviolent tension in mind, I hope to better understand Shakespeare’s own view of the relation between nonviolent tension and growth. If Hamlet’s actions were nonviolent and perhaps even necessary for growth, why does he apologize to Laertes in Act V?


Proposal Number: 43
Date: 2019-12-30
Paper Title: Wisdom and Education in the Solomonic Tradition
Core Text:
Book of Proverbs
Abstract:
One of the perennial intellectual problems surrounding the idea of “wisdom” is that of definition. What is it, exactly, and where is it to be found? Related to this difficulty is the question of what, if any, connection exists between one’s education and one’s acquisition of wisdom? This paper will explore the definitions put forward by the biblical book of Proverbs, and examine what it says about the linkage between one’s education and acquisition of wisdom.


Proposal Number: 42
Date: 2019-12-30
Paper Title: Let Us Make Incision: Shakespeare and Race in Merchant of Venice
Core Text:
The Merchant of Venice
Abstract:
Was Shakespeare a racist? The term is anachronistic, but in The Merchant of Venice a variety of disparaging comments pertaining to categories that would today be defined in racial terms are made by sympathetic protagonists and never discountenanced. Such treatment appears to indicate a degree of sympathy on Shakespeare’s part for negative attitudes toward Jews and Africans. Shakespeare’s treatment of Jewish characters in the play, however, indicates that his disparagement was religiously, not racially, directed. And with respect to both Jews and Africans, Shakespeare clearly articulated a pan-racial understanding of a common humanity more fundamental and important than any differences between the groups that would be classified as different races in the centuries to come.


Proposal Number: 41
Date: 2019-12-30
Paper Title: Moderation and its Cultivation
Core Text:
Nichomachean Ethics
Abstract:
What is moderation? Knowing what it is, can a person cultivate it in his or her life? Can moderation be taught? If so, how?


Proposal Number: 40
Date: 2019-12-26
Paper Title: Tolstoy's What Is Art? Revolution and Counterrevolution
Core Text:
What Is Art? by Leo Tolstoy
Abstract:
Leo Tolstoy ‘s What Is Art? (1899) fostered a revolutionary turn in the history of art theory. It challenged the theory of art as fine arts (beaux-arts) that had superseded Plato’s and Aristotle’s theories of art as imitative crafts (technai mimetikai) a century and half earlier. It argued with impressive specificity that art is not defined by the production of pleasure or beauty for refined tastes. It mocked highbrow conceits about the superiority of artworks whose practice and appreciation require the benefit of a privileged upbringing. Indeed, it gave the question “What is art?” the formulation we now take for granted. Yet Tolstoy’s own answer to this question was counterrevolutionary. He argued that art is the conscious communication of sincere feelings from an artist to an audience. This theory shared common ground with romanticism, whose fortunes were rapidly fading, and sought to enlist art in the service of a Christian humanism, whose hopes would be sorely tried by the coming century. My paper discusses the provocative duality of What Is Art? and why it is worth reading today.


Proposal Number: 38
Date: 2019-12-22
Paper Title: Limiting the structural violence of metaphysical beliefs
Core Text:
Christian Bible, Koran, Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads
Abstract:
This paper traces out some of the key conflicts between what is often thought of as key "content" of a religion and the "structure" of its metaphysical beliefs. In most cases, structure wins out over content, even when it leads to violence and oppression. However, there is more than one "structure" available to believers in these religions, including the more radical possibility, inherent in each school of thought, of recognizing that all structures are just provisional. The paper explores and evaluates these possibilities with the goal of supporting the riches of each approach while recognizing and limiting potential violence.


Proposal Number: 37
Date: 2019-12-21
Paper Title: Life in the Woods as Contemplative Foundation for Social Justice
Core Text:
Thoreau’s Walden
Abstract:
Thoreau invites his readers into a contemplative experience, alone in nature, as a precursor to “moral reform.” Without thoughtful solitude as a way of life, Thoreau argues, we never see that which is. We never awake to divine life nor to the need for “new, universal, and more liberal laws.” Periods of separation and deep concentration are necessary for self knowledge and for the development of a moral sense. One can’t stand against the “mass of men” serving the state, against social injustices, without a firm foundation in solitude, far from the madding crowd. Thoreau’s purposes are not inconsistent with Catholic contemplative traditions.

Conference Panel Proposal

Title of panel: Formation for Social Justice: Contemplation
Six sentence description or abstract of panel:


Proposal Number: 28
Date: 2019-12-21
Paper Title: The Art of Classical Rhetoric
Core Text:
Ancient Rhetoric Treatises
Abstract:
Development of a Core Curriculum module on Classical Rhetoric at the University of Navarra. Rhetoric as an art (techne) still applicable today. Possibility to use ancient treatises (e.g. Aristotle, Rhetorica ad Herennium, Cicero, Quintilian) that can be discussed blindly with the students. Importance of character (ethos) in rhetoric formation.


Proposal Number: 36
Date: 2019-12-18
Paper Title: Livy on the Conditions for Republican Government
Core Text:
Livy's Ab Urbe Condita
Abstract:
At the outset of the second book of the work we call "The History of Rome," Livy tells his reader that each of the kings contributed to the development of Rome, and that had liberty come any sooner, it would not have been to the benefit of the city. On this basis, I propose a reading of the first book as an analysis of the conditions for free government. The contribution of each of the kings will be considered, with particular attention paid to the first four and their sequence, and Livy's suggestion that Servius Tullius (the sixth king) may have been preparing Rome for liberty when he was assassinated.


Proposal Number: 35
Date: 2019-12-16
Paper Title: Transgressive readings and responses to gender-based violence in core texts
Core Text:
Lysistrata and “The Wife of Bath’s Tale”
Abstract:
Recently, students in our Western Traditions I class have questioned the reading list’s frequent representations of gender-based violence. Our valedictorian and her colleagues developed a discussion-based co-curricular event called “Facing the Canon” to address this issue. From the rape of the Trojan women to Dido’s suicide to Iphigenia’s sacrifice to Cassandra’s kidnapping to the attempted rape of Guigemar’s unnamed queen, they pointed out that the syllabus offers little reprieve from graphic descriptions of violence against women as we trace a loosely chronological path from The Aeneid to the Canterbury Tales. In response, this paper borrows from student discussions to imagine how Aristophanes’ Lysistrata and Chaucer’s “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” might help us creatively rebuild students’ interest in the canon by considering both central protagonists as models for community organizing and transgressive resistance.


Proposal Number: 34
Date: 2019-12-15
Paper Title: The Transgressions of the Elders: The Social Critique of Confucianism as Harbinger and Paradox in Ba Jin's Family
Core Text:
Family by Ba Jin
Abstract:
In Family, Ba Jin’s blistering critique of Confucian values focuses on the traditional family structure that deprived females and youth of individuality and agency, using the lives of the three Gao brothers as the primary lens. The main contrast is arguably between the eldest and youngest brothers, the former a human cautionary tale of how the burdens of tradition can destroy a life, and the latter a firebrand who serves as a symbol and harbinger of youth-led attempts to overthrow old ways of thinking. This paper, however, argues that it is actually the middle brother who is most successful at forging a new path, providing the novel’s key example of the bravery of youth in the face of an oppressive family structure. By picking his battles carefully while sticking by his principles when they matter most, he delivers a strong lesson to the elders and is the one whose future happiness seems most assured by the end of the novel.


Proposal Number: 33
Date: 2019-12-11
Paper Title: “Nothing Violent Long Endures”: Virtue, Benefaction, and Statesmanship in Petrarch’s Political Letters
Core Text:
Francesco Petrarch, Familiar Letters; Letters of Old Age
Abstract:
Francesco Petrarch, the famed poet laureate of the Italian Renaissance, took particular concern in the moral and intellectual qualities necessary for capable statesmanship. According to Petrarch, the capacity for statesmanship begins with the cultivation of moral virtue, which fosters the personal and civic friendships necessary for good political rule. Friendship is a necessary component of the political art because force alone cannot sustain government. The end of statesmanship is the moral, intellectual, and physical benefaction of one’s political community, which can only be fulfilled if the moral virtues are wedded to practical talent and intellectual capacity.


Proposal Number: 32
Date: 2019-12-11
Paper Title: Should we strive to come back to Ithaca?
Core Text:
Odyssey
Abstract:
Memories shape our identity in decisive ways. But they are not fixed, rather they live their own life within ourselves. A "life" whose development may be quite different from how things evolve in the outter world. Given this dissonance, should we strive to come back to Ithaca, to the place where we were once happy?


Proposal Number: 31
Date: 2019-12-10
Paper Title: Woman's War: Force & Persuasion in the Opening Scene of Richard II
Core Text:
Shakespeare, Richard II
Abstract:
This paper considers the opening scene of Shakespeare's Richard II. It asks: can some civil disputes be resolved only by force? Do these resolutions in turn demand certification by a divine arbiter? What kind of disputes could these be and what does it signify for the civil state if a possible limit of persuasion is divinely sanctioned force?


Proposal Number: 30
Date: 2019-12-09
Paper Title: Spiritual Freedom and Moral Transgression in The Brothers Karamazov
Core Text:
The Brothers Karamazov
Abstract:
The theme of spiritual freedom and moral transgression are at the heart of interpreting The Brothers Karamazov. Bakhtin’s concept of polyphony is now the primary theoretical lens to interpret Dostoevsky’s novel where there is no single authorial voice in the work. While I agree there can be no definitive interpretation of a work, there nevertheless can be a tentative one as informed by the phenomenological experiences of the characters in a novel. In analyzing The Brothers Karamazov in this manner, I demonstrate how this approach can illuminate our understanding of the novel about freedom and transgression in ways that are contrary to those who adopt polyphonic analysis or demand a definitive interpretation.


Proposal Number: 29
Date: 2019-12-09
Paper Title: VIRTUOUS FRIENDSHIP AS THE BEAUTIFUL COMPLETION OF JUSTICE
Core Text:
Nicomachean Ethics
Abstract:
Aristotle's description of the virtue of justice in his Nicomachean Ethics is unique among his description of the other virtues. Justice alone of the virtues is not described as a beautiful component to adorn the ethical life. By contrast, Aristotle's description of friendship, which he calls a kind of virtue, is beautiful. It seems that Aristotle meant friendship to be the picture of perfect justice, its beautiful completion.


Proposal Number: 27
Date: 2019-12-06
Paper Title:
Core Text:

Abstract:

Conference Panel Proposal

Title of panel: Formation for Social Justice: Contemplation and Action
Six sentence description or abstract of panel:
Faculty from the Perspectives Program at Boston College would like to invite participants from other institutions to join us on two panels: "Formation for Social Justice: Contemplation" and "Formation for Social Justice: Action." By "formation" is meant education that, in addition to the intellectual development of students, is also committed to the their spiritual and moral development. The panels are meant to address texts and pedagogies that contribute to such education in both classroom ("contemplation") and service-learning ("action") contexts. 


Proposal Number: 25
Date: 2019-12-06
Paper Title: Anti-Imperialism in Mark Twain's Connecticut Yankee
Core Text:
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Abstract:
Mark Twain’s splendid story, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, delighted Americans upon its publication in the nineteenth century. It turned the tables on the British, the great imperial power of the age, by turning them into backwards simpletons who stood in need of New England common sense to set them on the road to liberty and self-government. But Twain’s obvious critique of British imperialism hides a less-obvious critique of American imperialism as well. This paper explores the theme of anti-imperialism throughout the novel and examining a key facet of Twain’s political thought.


Proposal Number: 24
Date: 2019-12-05
Paper Title: Aquinas Vs. the Skeptic
Core Text:
Summa Theologiae, Outlines of Pyrrhonism
Abstract:
In his Summa Theologiae, Saint Thomas Aquinas presents several different arguments against skepticism. Two of these arguments involve the claim that the skeptic falls into a self-contradiction. In contrast, the most famous of all ancient skeptics, Sextus Empiricus, argues that the skeptic need not fall into a self-contradiction. While Aquinas does not mention Sextus Empiricus, it is interesting to contrast their two opposed positions and to ask who is right.