The Augustinian Moment: Reflection at the Limits of Selfhood

The Augustinian Moment: Reflection at the Limits of Selfhood

May 26, 2010

3rd Floor Lecture Hall
Divinity School
University of Chicago

The papers of the Augustinian Moment conference were published as a special issue of the Journal of Religion in January of 201.

Augustine has been at the center of a number of recent studies and developments, which show that despite the secularization of western culture there is a significant expansion of his role from major Latin church father to enduring patriarch of the West. Some of these developments are of a historical nature, as when James O'Donnell's controversial new biography (Augustine: Saint and Sinner) claimed that there is no neutral starting point from which to undertake the study of the historical Augustine, since western culture is so shaped by Augustinian values. Other, more literary studies like Brian Stock's After Augustine have demonstrated how Augustine exercised great influence on western reading practices, while recently there have been interesting philosophical appropriations of the Augustinian theme of confession, with thinkers like Jean- François Lyotard (The Confession of Augustine) and Jean-Luc Marion's (Au lieu de soi, L'approche de Saint Augustin, Paris, 2009; translation expected in 2010), giving their own reception and interpretation of Augustine from respectively a postmodern and a Catholic vantage-point.

The May colloquium, organized by Willemien Otten, Professor of Theology and History of Christianity, has as its intention to bring about a specific discussion between various historical and literary approaches of Augustine's thought as found in Brian Stock and others and the more philosophical retrieval of Augustine as found in Jean-Luc Marion and others. The colloquium takes its theme from the motto that Augustine himself famously formulated in his Soliloquies, when he said that all he wanted to know was God and the soul. Hence the connection between God and the soul, but especially the notion of the Augustinian self as a concept at the heart of western culture, will be discussed in all the lectures.


Brian Stock, Emeritus Professor of History and Literature, University of Toronto, Honorary Fellow of the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies 
Burcht Pranger, Professor of the History and Theology of the Christian Religion, University of Amsterdam 
James Wetzel, Augustinian Chair in the Thought of St. Augustine, Villanova University 
Jean-Luc Marion, Greeley Professor of Catholic Studies and Professor of the Philosophy of Religions and Theology, University of Chicago, Member of the Académie française


9:30   Coffee and Tea (Swift Hall Common Room) 
9:45   Introduction: Willemien Otten, University of Chicago 
10:00 Brian Stock, University of Toronto: “Philosophical Soliloquies and Narrative Thinking in Augustine’s Early Dialogues” 
11:00 Burcht Pranger, University of Amsterdam: “Augustine and the Silence of the Sirens” 
12:15 Lunch 
2:00   James Wetzel, Villanova University: “Life in Unlikeness: The Materiality of Augustine’s Conversion” 
3:00   Jean-Luc Marion, University of Chicago: “Augustine and the Approach to the Self” 
4:00   Panel Discussion 
5:00   Reception (Swift Hall Common Room)

The conference is free and open to the public. To register, please send an e-mail with the subject line “conference registration” and your name, institutional affiliation (if any), and email address to: For more information, contact Nathan Phillips at