Jean Bethke Elshtain: The Engaged Mind
Sponsored by the McDonald Agape Foundation
Over four years, the Divinity School is hosting a series of cross-disciplinary conferences reflecting on themes inspired by the work of Jean Bethke Elshtain. Given the protean nature of her thought, one conference each year will take up a set of related issues drawn from her body of work. The series brings together senior scholars and major thinkers, many of whom have been Professor Elshtain's interlocutors over the course of her thirty-five year career. From a variety of viewpoints, they will examine Elshtain's contributions to the ongoing scholarly conversation and consider how the intellectual landscape has changed over time.
There is a tremendous amount of material to cover. Elshtain first entered public consciousness as a "public intellectual" in the early 1970s, as she published controversial articles in scholarly journals as well as journals of civic opinion, although she had been publishing in national outlets as a graduate student in the 1960s. Her work takes up all the major concerns of social existence: birth, death, the family, education, citizenship, religion and theology, popular culture, gender, war and international relations, science and society.
The first conference focused on feminism, the family, and civil society; particularly the themes set out in Public Man, Private Woman, now in its second edition and considered a classic work in modern political theory. The second conference, "Democracy on Trial" considered how religion contributes to a vibrant civil society, and how both affect the practice of democracy. The third conference, "Theological Reflection and the Limits of Politics" touched upon themes with theological purchase that perdure into modern political thought such as sovereignty and questions of philosophical anthropology.
The final conference, "Just War against Terror: International Relations, Gender and the Challenge of Ethics" will take place in the fall of 2013. Each event concentrates on a particular period in Elshtain's career, drawing out the debates most central to her work at that time. All conferences will be interdisciplinary in scope and designed to be of interest to a broad audience.
Conference panels will be designed to foster dialogue among the speakers about the themes, arguments, and controversies raised by Elshtain's work, particularly as it intersects with their own areas of expertise. We anticipate a lively discussion as Professor Elshtain will be present throughout the conferences as an active participant.
The project is funded by a generous grant from the McDonald Agape Foundation.
Conferences are free and open to the public, but due to anticipated demand, advance registration is strongly recommended. See the individual conference page for a link to register online. Address any questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.