1. Features | The Politics of Truth | Theology and the Public University
2. Events | Writing Freedom - And its Constraints | Dealing with Infinity | Robert Alter on The Hebrew Bible
3. Grad Research Spotlight | Raphael Magarik on Biblical Narration
Public University, Public Values | The Politics of Truth: A Way Forward
February 7 | 5-7pm | 220 Stephens Hall

To truly understand the current political landscape, we may need new ways — and a new willingness — to confront the question of “values.” How can scholars in the humanities and social sciences contribute to these efforts? If humanistic study is to make a contribution to public life, do academics need to confront the subject of values through their writing and teaching?

The series Public University, Public Values is prompted by the recognition that the crisis in the liberal democracies of Europe and North America is, among other things, a crisis of values. The “political” focus that has shaped the humanities and much of the social sciences over the past decades has made possible an extraordinary body of scholarship and teaching — yet it has often left unexplored questions of morality and ethics. In a series of probing conversations, faculty members explore what it might mean to integrate a consideration of values into their public-facing work.

Kicking off the series, Arlie Hochschild (Sociology) and Thomas Laqueur (History) discuss the contributions that academic scholars can make to the public understanding of truth and its relation to politics.

Theology and the Public University

February 21-23 | 820 Barrows Hall | All Day 
For the past three years, the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion, supported by the Henry Luce Foundation, has convened a series of workshops and seminars concerning the place of theology in the university. From the outset, the goal was to challenge narrow conceptions of both secular learning and "theology," in hopes of fostering robust conversation about the teaching of religion in the pluralist setting of the modern university. On February 22-23, 2019, BCSR will be holding the culminating conference for the project. Entitled "Theology and the Public University," the conference will assemble at Berkeley a group of talented and creative thinkers who we believe are pioneering new ways of imagining theology, broadly construed.
Public University, Public Values | Maggie Nelson 

Writing Freedom - And its Constraints
Maggie Nelson in Conversation with Nadia Ellis
February 28 | 5-7pm | Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall

A 2016 MacArthur Fellow, Nelson is a professor of English at the University of Southern California. A poet, critic, and nonfiction writer, she is the author of The Argonauts, which won the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism. Her other books include four collections of poetry, and The Red Parts: Autobiography of a Trial, which explores the aftermath of the 1969 murder of Nelson’s aunt and the trial, held decades later, of a suspect in the case.

Nelson is currently at work on a book exploring the idea of “freedom” in a variety of contemporary discourses and contexts, including sexual freedom, drug discourse, climate reckoning, and the art world. She talks with Nadia Ellis, associate professor of English and author of Territories of the Soul: Queered Belonging in the Black Diaspora.

Nelson delivers the Una's Lecture on Wednesday, Feb 27, at 5:00 pm in the Maude Fife Room, 315 Wheeler Hall.

Dealing with Infinity: Art and the Transformation of the Symbolic Order

Multi-Day Workshop
March 1-2 | 10am-4:30pm | 3335 Dwinelle Hall

A genealogy of the historical forms of imagination or of attentiveness in literature and the other arts traces these forms back to epistemological realms that predate aesthetic experience: to the medieval formation of the soul, to attentiveness in prayer practices, and even further back to Aristotle and Plato (s. N. Largier, Marno). If the institution of secularity, first introduced by Luther, provokes – as Largier argues – the transposition and reconfiguration of mysticism into the new epistemological realm of aesthetic experience rather than a gap in history, if the modern invention of autonomous art should thus not be thought of as a novum but as a transformation or a shift in a historical continuum, then this question has another substantial dimension: What causes these shifts, what do these reconfigurations take account of?
Co-Sponsored EVENTS
The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary

Robert Alter, Professor Emeritus, UC Berkeley
February 13 | 4:30-6:30pm | Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, 2121 Allston Way

Robert Alter’s lecture will consider several different challenges to a translator of the bible with illustrations from specific Biblical texts and comments on how the modern English versions have failed to meet these challenges.
Raphael Magarik on Biblical Narration and Luther's Lectures on Genesis

"Free Indirect Revelation: Luther's Moses and the Narration of Genesis"

As part of our series spotlighting UC Berkeley graduate student research, BCSR recently had the opportunity to sit down with Raphael Magarik, a doctoral candidate in English with emphases in Early Modern and Jewish Studies. His dissertation is tentatively titled "Who Narrates the Bible? Reformation Commentary and English Verse Culture". The project intervenes in pressing questions in biblical studies, the history of Protestant theology and the Reformation, as well as modern literary theory. In March, Raphael's article, "Free Indirect Revelation: Luther's Moses and the Narration of Genesis," will appear in the journal Reformation. The article shows how Luther imagined and portrayed the narrator of the Book of Genesis in his lectures on Genesis from 1535-6.
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