Upcoming Conferences and More

Here are various news items that I’ve gathered. This will probably be my last post until the end of the summer.

  • There’s a special issue of Theoria in the works, devoted to medieval skepticism. The deadline for submissions is September 1, 2019.
  • The 24th Annual Colloquium of the SIEPM will take place in Varna (Bulgaria) this coming fall, on the subject of the Dionysian Traditions (September 9-11, 2019).
  • The Aquinas and ‘the Arabs’ International Working Group is sponsoring a meeting in Pisa, June 18-21, 2019, on “Intellect, Experience and More.” Details here.
  • There’s an interview with Peter Adamson (LMU Munich) at the What Is It Like … series.
  • The Albert the Great Center is holding a week-long summer theology program on St. Paul’s epistle to the Galatians, drawing on Aquinas’s commentary. Details here (Wausau, Wisconsin, Aug. 12-16, 2019).
  • The University of Pennsylvania libraries are advertising one-month visiting research fellowships for 2019-2020, aimed at their large collection of premodern manuscripts. The application deadline is May 15, 2019. Information here.
  • The Society for Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy is taking submissions for its annual Founders’ Prize, for the best paper in the field by an emerging scholar. The deadline is May 1, 2019. Details here.
  • I’m sorry to report that Loome Theological Books, in Stillwater, Minnesota, formerly the world’s greatest bookstore for medieval philosophy, has gone out of business.

Various Opportunities

Here are some random opportunities and happenings that I’ve been collecting for a while now:

  • Students who might be interested in pursuing a career teaching high school Latin in the United States should check out the Quintilian Society. (Thanks to Caleb Cohoe for the pointer.)
  • For some months now, Loome Booksellers in Stillwater, Minnesota has been running a Go Fund Me drive, in an effort to keep open the world’s greatest bookstore for medieval philosophy and theology. You can support it here.
  • There’s a new open access journal in the works, The European Journal for the Study of Thomas Aquinas. It is a joint initiative of  the Thomas Instituut Utrecht, the Faculty of Theology of Nicolaus Copernicus University of Toruń, and the Saint Thomas Aquinas Institute for Theology and Culture of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Fribourg. Issues will appear annually.
  • The Lumen Christi Institute has announced its slate of summer seminars, and as always there are things here for medievalists. There’s a seminar for undergraduates, led by Russell Hittinger, in Oakland, on Augustine on Self, God, and Society, and a seminar in Chicago, for PhD students, on Metaphysics and the Soul in Thomas Aquinas, led by Stephen Brock. Bear in mind that these programs offer generous funding. Details here.
  • UC Louvain is advertising a one-year postdoc, tied to their project studying commentaries on Avicenna’s Qaṣīdat al-nafs. Candidates must have strong Arabic and the ability to work with manuscripts. I have not found information on the web, but queries can be sent to cile Bonmariage.
  • The SIEPM has just announced an interesting initiative: “a stipend to support junior individual researchers (up to and including the postdoc level) to visit and work with senior individual researchers. Each year, two Stipends are available. The amount for each Stipend is € 1.500.” See further details here. Note that both scholars, junior and senior, must be members of SIEPM. Note as well that, if you’re a junior SIEPM member, and looking for a senior scholar to visit, I’m always glad to have visitors in Boulder! (Having said that, I guess I’d better pay up my membership.)

A Slow Medieval Course, with Christine de Pizan

Here’s a guest post on the medieval survey class from Scott Williams (UNC Asheville). Scott sent me an email with some of these thoughts, and I thought it was so interesting that I asked him to write it up in a form I could post.

I have been enjoying Bob’s series of posts on syllabi in Medieval Philosophy. When the call went out for these I was teaching a course called “Islamic Philosophy” and so I sent in that syllabus. I also teach a course called “Medieval Philosophy” that’s more general. I want to say two things about what I learned recently in teaching the Medieval Philosophy course.

First, in the past I taught this course by covering lots of authors from different times and traditions (Pagan Neo-Platonists, Christians, Jews, and Muslims). In Spring 2018 I tried an experiment – I slowed things way down. This decision was inspired in part by the book The Slow Professor: Challenging the Culture of Speed in the Academy that I had read with other faculty members in other departments. I developed a short list of authors, and students spent more time on those authors than they would have in a standard survey. When the course was over and I read the Course Evaluations, I found that students gave the course the highest scores that can be given in numerous categories. Students wrote that they really really appreciated the slow approach. They were tired of “whiplash” courses. In my judgement, these students came to understand the authors much more than past students had. They came to see how different parts of a philosopher’s texts fit together. It’s one thing for students to learn discrete facts about e.g., Al-Farabi on the moral virtues, it’s another thing for students to see how this moral theory fits into an overall model of the place of human beings in the cosmos and in political life. So, instead of having students read only Part 1 (as found in Philosophy in the Middle Ages) of Al-Farabi’s The Political Regime (also called The Principles of Existing Things), they read Part 1 and Part 2.

Here’s one way, among many ways, that slowing down the medieval philosophy course can look. There are many other authors/texts that can be used. (Note: I teach Maimonides in my Islamic Philosophy Course and in some semesters he’s in the general Medieval Phil. course.) This is but one suggestion:

Required Texts:

  1. Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy. Trans. Joel C. Relihan. Hackett, 2001.
  2. Christine de Pizan, The Book of the City of Ladies and Other Writings. Trans. Ineke Hardy. Hackett, 2018.
  3. Al-Farabi, The Political Writings, Volume 2. Trans. Charles E. Butterworth. Cornell University Press, 2015.
  4. Thomas Aquinas, Treatise on Happiness, Treatise on Human Acts, Trans. Thomas Williams, commentary by Christina van Dyke and Thomas Williams. Hackett, 2016.
  5. John Marenbon, Medieval Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford Univ. Press, 2016
  6. Document on Moodle (includes Porphyry’s Isagoge. I am contemplating whether to have 2 weeks on Porphyry in the future; we’d likely read On Abstinence from Killing Animals. This contrasts nicely with Boethius’s Treatise Against Eutyches and Nestorius on the rationality condition for ‘persona’).

Schedule:

  • 1 1/2 weeks on Augustine, with 1 day on Porphyry
  • 2 1/2 weeks on Boethius (we read all of The Consolation of Philosophy, and, Treatise Against Eutyches and Nestorius (personhood is the main topic; in a forthcoming publication I argue that Boethius likely invents personhood as a distinct general category (it’s in Person: A History, ed. Antonia LoLordo (OUP))
  • 2 weeks on Christine de Pizan (read most of The Book of the City of Ladies, plus selections from other texts- see the powerpoint for references)
  • 3 weeks on Al-Farabi (we read all of The Political Regime, plus other texts)
  • 6 weeks on Aquinas (we read all of the Treatise on Happiness, Treatise on Human Acts with Commentary)

 

Second, in most standard surveys of Medieval Philosophy we find no women taught.  (I found no women in Bob’s earlier posted list of commonly taught authors, for example.) This is not good, and for several reasons. My attempt to address this was to spend a week on the early 15th c. philosopher Christine de Pizan. Many of my students loved reading her. And, her texts allowed me to address some of the social contexts of medieval (esp. scholastic) philosophers. The way I framed her The Book of the City of Ladies was that it is Christine’s “summa” in defense of the feminine sex against centuries and centuries of sexism. I had a very positive experience in teaching Christine and plan to continue to teach her in the future and more of her texts. (Hackett has recently published a new translation of Christine de Pizan; so we have a reasonably priced new text to assign.) (I gave a lecture to a general humanities course recently on Christine, and covered highlights of the sorts of things that I discussed in Medieval Philosophy. I’ve attached the powerpoint here.)

Peter Adamson has two podcasts on CdP, here and here.

I’m writing all this because Bob has been talking to/with those of us who teach Medieval Philosophy, and I thought I should say that we need to teach philosophers who happen to be women too. Not just because they are women, but because they have interesting and important things to say and that we need to learn. My students got more interested in medieval philosophy by reading e.g., Christine de Pizan. By keeping it a male-only affair, I believe we signal to our students that we professors are either ignorant of women philosophers or that we don’t believe they are important enough to teach.

Hopefully in a few years time we will find the most popular medieval philosophy textbook that is assigned in our survey courses to include philosophers like Christine de Pizan. It’s a good idea, and for many good reasons.

News of All Sorts

Here’s a bunch of news items I’ve been collecting for some time now, which means that some of these entries are rather old news:

  • As of this fall, Catarina Dutilh Novaes has left Groningen to take up a position at the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam.
  • This past summer, Francis Feingold won the SMRP Founder’s Award (best paper by a younger scholar) for “Aquinas’s Discussion of Aristotle’s Claim That Knowing Does Not Alter the Knower.” Honorable mention went to Fedor Benevich, Joseph Stenberg, and Nicolas Faucher.
  • Also over the summer, the Vatican announced the opening of the digital Vatican Library, with 15,000 some manuscripts currently available (out of a total collection, in case you were wondering, of 80,000 codices).
  • Scott Williams has compiled an online bibliography for Henry of Ghent. It runs to 156 pages. (Actually, although the bibliography is what Scott asked me to advertise, it’s just one among many very useful things pertaining to Henry of Ghent that are assembled on this web page.)
  • Scott also said: just like Tobias Hoffmann’s online bibliography for John Duns Scotus. So check that out too. It runs to 396 pages.
  • While I’m on the subject of bibliographies, Thérèse Bonin continues to keep her Aquinas in English bibliography up to date, though it now has a new URL.
  • Someone else who’s been doing amazing work online is Jeffrey Witt (Loyola Univ. Maryland). A good place to start is with his Scholastic Commentaries and Texts Archive. But that’s really just the start. He’s working toward a comprehensive initiative that would enable cooperative open access publishing ventures aimed at scholastic texts.
  • For a very different sort of online presence, check out — if you haven’t already — Martin Lenz’s blog. He’s been steadily posting, for the last five months, on all sorts of topics, but especially on the history of philosophy.
  • I mentioned this a few years ago, but since it continues to grow, let me mention again that Dag Hasse and colleagues continue to build an online Arabic and Latin Glossary, aimed to offer a comprehensive guide to the vocabulary used in medieval Latin translations of Arabic texts (philosophical, medical, scientific).
  • Finally, in honor of Thanksgiving in this part of the world, our friends at the Franciscan Institute are offering 40% off all of their publications this weekend: Nov. 23 – Nov. 26. Use the code THANKS18. It’s a great opportunity to acquire some essential volumes in any medieval philosophical library.

Peter Adamson and Other Opportunities

  • It’s not quite too late, though only a few hours are left, to submit a paper to the SMRP’s Founder’s Award Prize. Graduate students and PhDs within the last five years are eligible. Deadline is today, May 1.
  • Congratulations to Peter Adamson, whose History of Philosophy without any gaps podcast has just made its way to the end of the Middle Ages, and posted its 300th episode, not counting the 62 episodes he’s completed on Indian philosophy, and a few more in the newly started series on African philosophy. Next up is Byzantium, which I suppose means he isn’t really done with the Middle Ages. And doubtless there’s still Renaissance scholasticism to look forward to. Lest you think this a quixotic project, you might like to know that the total number of podcast downloads stands at 21 million. What’s your citation index?
  • While I’m congratulating Peter, I might as well mention that he also recently won a large European Research Council grant for his project on animals in Islamic philosophy.
  • Also, check out Peter’s interview on the APA Blog, in which he talks about diversifying the canon.  (I myself recently weighed in on this topic, in an interview at 3am.)
  • The British Journal for the History of Philosophy is looking for a new associate editor who would oversee submissions in medieval philosophy. Application deadline is May 25, 2018. (Thanks to Caleb Cohoe for the pointer. I’m told Peter Adamson will NOT be applying for this job.)
  • I’ve discovered a remarkable web page devoted to medieval commentaries on the Bible at big.hypotheses.org/. It contains much information about the medieval Latin Bible, the common gloss, and various later medieval commentaries, including, among much else, a working electronic edition of Aquinas’s Catena aurea. For the electronic version of the Glossa ordinaria, see here.
  • The folks at the Aquinas Institute, who have been busily publishing big bilingual editions of Aquinas’s Opera, are now starting to make available ebooks, formatted to be read on your Kindle or other such device. For a small fee, you get a Latin-English text that is designed to be read on a portable reader, and that even lets you look up Latin vocabulary on your screen.

 

Post-Docs, Grants, Summer Schools, Etc.

  • I don’t usually post information about medieval jobs that are advertised at philjobs.org, but Jeff Brower asked me to call attention to the very attractive three-year postdoc that Purdue University is advertising, specifically in medieval philosophy! The application deadline is the end of December. Details here.
  • As the Daily Nous reported a few weeks back, a couple of medievalists have recently won grants of around $2M from the European Research Council.
    • Dragos Calma (Cambridge) won for his project: “Neoplatonism and Abrahamic Traditions. A Comparative Analysis of the Middle East, Byzantium and the Latin West (9th-16th Centuries).”
    • Catarina Dutilh Novaes (Groningen) won for her project: “The Social Epistemology of Argumentation.” (This is evidently not an historical project, however.)
  • Enrique Alarcón is directing a conference this spring: “Inteligencia y voluntad en Tomás de Aquino” (April 26-27, 2018, Pamplona).
  • The Maimonides Centre in Hamburg is organizing a summer school for graduate students on “Sceptical Strategies, Methods, and Approaches in the Middle Ages: Christian, Islamic, and Jewish Traditions” (July 29-Aug. 3, 2018, in Hamburg). Details here.
  • The Lumen Christi Institute is organizing a summer seminar for doctoral students on “St. Thomas Aquinas on Free Choice” (June 24-July 4, 2018, Chicago), and a second on “Truth and Authority in Augustine’s City of God” (July 21-28, 2018, Berkeley). Details here.
  • The Benedictine Abbey in Tyniec (near Cracow) is hosting a conference next fall: “Altiora te ne quaesieris (Sir. 3, 22): The medieval pursuit of wisdom” (September 2-7, 2018). Cfp deadline is March 31.
  • A useful Aquinas resource to know about is the Aquinas Institute‘s online version of their bilingual editions. Everything they’ve published is available free here, in an easy-to-use, searchable bilingual format. As of now, that consists in Sent. IV dd. 1-25, ST, In Job, In Matt., In Johan., and all of the Pauline commentaries. For scholars, the Corpus Thomisticum is still clearly much better, but for students this could come to be a very useful resource.