“To Be Deep in History:” Newman on the Gift of Tradition
When: Thurs, Feb 8, 2018 at 7:00 pm
Where: Penn Newman Center, Upper Lounge
3720 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA, 19104
2nd Annual John Henry Newman Lecture
Professor Thomas Pfau
Duke Divinity School
This lecture will explore J. H. Newman’s understanding of tradition and its relevance for humanistic and theological inquiry today. Newman is the first to contest the Enlightenment’s critique of tradition as backward, static, and as inherently prejudicial to social, political, and intellectual progress. Moving beyond the prevailing cultural and intellectual movements of the Romantic era – those of historicism and sentimentalism – Newman’s 1845 Idea of Development of Christian Doctrine outlines an understanding of tradition that proved remarkably prescient of developments in twentieth-century philosophical theology and scriptural hermeneutics. Above all, Newman shows that the many voices that comprise a tradition amount to a gift of sorts. We honor it by receiving it, not as a possession but as a temporary trust, a palimpsest of voices inviting us to interact with them and, in so doing, discover and cultivate our own voice and reason.
Join the Collegium Institute and the Penn Newman Center for this annual lecture marking the legacy of the University of Pennsylvania as the first Newman club in the United States.
Please direct any questions or comments to Elizabeth Feeney at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet our Keynote Presenter: Prof. Thomas Pfau
Thomas Pfau is the Alice Mary Baldwin Professor of English, with secondary appointments in Germanic Languages & Literatures and in the Duke Divinity School. A native of Germany, Prof. Pfau began his academic career in 1980 as a student of History and Literature at the University of Constance. In 1982, he came to the U.S. where, at UC-Irvine, he joined the Graduate Program in Comparative Literature and Theory. In 1985, he continued his studies in the Comparative Literature Program at SUNY-Buffalo where he received his Ph.D. in 1989 with a dissertation on self-consciousness in Romantic poetry and theory (Wordsworth, Shelley, et al.). Since then, his interests have gradually broadened to include topics in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature, philosophy, and intellectual history. Besides translating and editing two volumes of theoretical writings by Hölderlin and Schelling, he also edited three essay collections on English Romanticism, as well as special issues of South Atlantic Quarterly (1996) English Romantic Review ( 2010, 2011), and Modernist Cultures (2005). To date, he is the author of three monographs: Wordsworth’s Profession (Stanford UP, 1997) Romantic Moods: Paranoia, Trauma, and Melancholy, 1794-1840 (Johns Hopkins UP, 2005) and Minding the Modern: Human Agency, Intellectual Traditions, and Responsible Knowledge (Notre Dame UP, 2013). He has published some thirty-five essays in numerous essay collections and scholarly journals on a wide range of writers, including Rousseau, A. Smith, Kant, Wordsworth, Wollstonecraft, Coleridge, Shelley, Goethe, Beethoven, Eichendorff, Schleiermacher, Thomas Mann, Walter Benjamin and other writers and philosophers.