Scholars across the disciplines are pleased to announce the formation of The Levinas Society. Inspired by Lithuanian-born Jewish philosopher and Talmudic commentator Emmanuel Levinas (1906-1995) and contemporary Levinas scholarship, we propose developing a formal society to coordinate and enhance critical work and collaboration across the academic disciplines. The goal of this society is to facilitate a broad and dynamic community of persons working toward effecting the ethical in political, feminist, religious, critical, literary, pedagogical and philosophical realms.
As new generations of young scholars continue to comment on Levinas' insights and develop the work of his translators and exegetes, the need for a broad society aimed at coordinating the important work occurring throughout the Americas is clearly evident. The past decade has witnessed a prolific interest in the work of Levinas, generating a Levinas Center at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, a Levinas Studies Journal from Duquesne University Press, and numerous academic and graduate conferences. The burgeoning North American Levinas Society hopes to open the necessary space for continuing collaboration between the generations of Levinas thinkers and to draw together those working on seemingly disparate projects into a more robust community.
We propose an inaugural meeting to take place at Purdue University on May 12-14, 2006. The multiple purposes motivating this initial meeting will be (1) to assemble an organizational structure for the purposes of coordinating society activities; (2) to hold the first society conference organized around the broad theme of “Levinas and the political”; and (3) to bring generations of Levinas scholars face to face with one another in a mutually edifying and social atmosphere—which is to say, to bring students, young faculty, and more established scholars together in the hope of invigorating our shared interests.
For more information on joining the North American Levinas Society, please visit the society webpage: http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~sjneely/levinas.htm
CALL FOR PAPERS
The North America Levinas Society invites submissions of individual paper proposals and panel proposals for the inaugural meeting to be held May 12-14, 2006, at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. In an effort to draw together the widest interests for this inaugural meeting, we are accepting proposals for papers and panels on any topic related to Levinas. Still, we propose generally organizing the conference around the broad theme of “Levinas and the political.”
As interest in Levinasian scholarship continues to develop, one of the more urgent and controversial areas concerns the political. As Simon Critchley has stated, politics is Levinas’ Achilles heel, but what does this mean for developing a general ethical critique of social relations, organizing community through the imperatives of justice, or effecting a shared sense of the transcendent that we can employ as a means of addressing global injustices—if such a program is even possible, or indeed even desirable, in light of the
ethical priorities of Levinas’ work?
Additionally, the same concern for the political accompanies an admonishment against Levinas scholars not to become too enamored with the thinker at the risk of foreclosing debates and critical assessments of Levinas’ sometimes conflicting political pronouncements. It is with this critical attitude in mind—one which keeps us from contributing to a certain idolatry of Levinas—that we propose opening the inaugural meeting and conference of the North American Levinas Society with the broad theme of “Levinas and the political.”
Does Levinas understand liberal democracy as an end or as a means? What is the status of an(-)archy in Levinas’ theories of justice and the political compared to his understanding of an-archy in the ethical sense? How does Levinas’ work contribute to developments in feminisms, or reciprocally how do various feminist concerns critique and develop Levinas’ works in important ways? Where does Levinas stand with regard to (Post)Zionism? What is Levinas’ attitude toward utopian traditions? What is the meaning of finding an “enemy in alterity”? In what important ways is Levinas’ work developed by liberation theology? In what ways is Levinas’ phenomenology political? How do Levinasian concerns for the ethical intersect with a Marxist critique of political economy? Can there be a secular critique of violence vis-à-vis Levinas, or is any critique of violence already religious? How does Levinas’ turn toward the general economy of being develop or respond to other important theorists of general economy? Or, how can Levinas’ articulation of ontology as war respond to pure war theorists such as Paul Virilio, Giorgio Agamben, or Michel Foucault, and how is Levinas’ ontology as war different from the ontologizing of war? How do Levinas’ considerations of time—such as diachrony, messianicity, or a phenomenological horizon of time—provide means for a more invigorated political critique? What is the political status of hostage, sacrifice?
This inaugural meeting and conference hopes to bring together Levinasian scholars from a wide range of interests, positions, and institutional affiliations; as such, we again emphasize that the theme of “Levinas and the political” is to be interpreted in the very broadest sense. Indeed, all Levinasian scholarship is political in some sense.
Individual paper proposals: Individual abstracts should be 200-300 words for a 20 minute presentation. We will assess and organize individual papers into panels of three or four.
Panel proposal: Panel proposals should be 500 words for an 1 hour-15 minute session. Please include the session title, name of organizer, institutional affiliation, discipline or department, along with the chair’s name and participants’ names in addition to brief abstracts detailing the focus of each paper.
The deadline for submissions is January 15, 2006.
Society Webpage: http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~sjneely/levinas.htm
Please direct all proposals, questions, and concerns to:
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