Global Conference to Celebrate Centenary Birth of Jewish Philosopher

Nov. 6, 2006

by Jodi Cunningham, student newswriter, (254) 710-1961

An international conference celebrating the centenary birth of Hannah Arendt, a Jewish philosopher, activist and political writer, will take place Nov. 9-12 on the Baylor University campus.

Sponsored by the Center for Jewish Studies and the Hannah Arendt Institute in Dresden, Germany, the conference is titled "Hannah Arendt in the 21st Century: A Global Discourse." The conference will allow scholars from across the globe to convene and discuss Arendt's political and philosophical ideas and reconsider the philosophical questions she asked in the context of modern society.

"The Center for Jewish Studies is honored to host a celebration of Hannah Arendt's life and work," said Dr. Marc Ellis, director of the Center for American and Jewish Studies and University Professor of American and Jewish Studies at Baylor. "A Jew who fled Nazi Germany, Arendt came to America and devoted her life's work to limiting or ending violence and atrocity. One hundred years since her birth, Arendt continues to influence political and philosophical thinkers throughout the world."

Arendt was born in Hannover, Germany in 1906. She spent her life as a Jew challenging and writing about the abuse of power and ultimately sought to create a new foundation for political action. A renowned writer, political thinker and scholar, Arendt spoke out against Nazi leaders in Europe in hopes of creating a new beginning for the world.

Although she passed away in 1975, her life and works have remained a prominent source of inspiration. The Center for Jewish Studies' conference is just one of many events that will be held around the globe during Nov. 9-12 to celebrate Arendt's impact on the world.

The Center for Jewish Studies and the Hannah Arendt Institute have been in regular contact throughout the last year to plan the conference. Together, the two organizations have invited approximately 35 scholars who are experts on Arendt's works to come to the Baylor campus and present lectures. In addition to the United States, scholars will be coming from the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Poland, Romania, South Korea, Spain and Sweden.

The conference will begin with lunch and registration at noon on Thursday, Nov. 9, at the Center for Jewish Studies, located in room 133 of the Marrs McLean Science Building. Following registration, a lecture titled "Arendt's Political Philosophy in the 21st Century" will be held at 4 p.m. at the Center and will feature three scholars who will present papers on Arendt.

At 5:30 p.m., a dinner reception will be held at the Seasons Creamery in the North Village Community Center. Baylor University President John M. Lilley and Ellis will present welcoming speeches, followed by a presentation by Gerhard Besier from the Hannah Arendt Institute. Thursday's events will conclude following a lecture titled "Hannah Arendt and Totalitarianism: Then and Now" which will take place at 7:30 p.m. at the Center.

On Friday, Nov. 10, a presentation titled "Politics, Realism and Dissent in the Thought of Hannah Arendt" will begin the day's events at 9 a.m. At 11 a.m., a keynote speech will be given by Agnes Heller in the Great Hall of George W. Truett Theological Seminary. Heller will be speaking on Arendt's ideas concerning ideology and fundamentalism. Following the keynote speech, lunch and a panel discussion will take place at 12:15 p.m. The panel discussion is titled "In the Bible Belt: A Christian University?" and will feature Larry Lyon, dean of the Graduate School; Francis Beckwith, associate professor of church-state studies; and Carey Newman of the Baylor University Press. At 2:15 p.m., a lecture titled "Hannah Arendt Judaism and Eichman: A Continuing Controversy" will take place at the Center.

The highlight of Friday's events will be a dinner at 6 p.m. in the Harrington House. This event will feature welcoming remarks by Dr. Randall O'Brien, executive vice president and provost of Baylor University, and Sabbath candle lighting. In addition, a keynote speech concerning worldlessness, anti-semitism and Zionism in the thought of Arendt will be given by Holocaust theologian Richard Rubenstein. Rubenstein is the president emeritus and distinguished professor of religion at the University of Bridgeport as well as the Lawton Distinguished Professor Emeritus of religion at Florida State University. He is the author of The Cunning of History: Mass Death and the American Future and After Auschwitz: Radical Theology and Contemporary Judaism.

On Saturday, Nov. 11, part one of "Hannah Arendt in the Global Discourse" will take place at 9 a.m. and part two of the lecture will occur at 10:30 a.m. at the Center. Next, lunch and a keynote speech given by Ronald Feldman of the University of San Francisco will take place at 12:15 p.m. in the Baines and Fentress Room of the Bill Daniel Student Center. His speech is titled "The Pariah as Rebel, Hannah Arendt's Jewish Writings." At 2 p.m., a lecture titled "Narration and Universality in the Work of Hannah Arendt" will occur at the Center, followed by a lecture titled "Hannah Arendt on Freedom, Liberty and Revolution" at 4:45 p.m. in the Center.

Saturday's dinner will be held at 7 p.m. in the Hughes-Dillard Alumni Center and will feature a special musical presentation by Baylor students. Soprano Kristen Miller, a senior music and religion major, will sing various selections and some original works by Stephen Variames, a sophomore music major. In addition, Dayla Stoerzbach will be playing the viola.

The conference will conclude on Sunday, Nov. 12, with breakfast at the Center.

Registration for the conference is $200 per person and is available at www.baylor.edu/jewish_studies. Day tickets are also available and can be obtained by calling the Center for Jewish Studies at (254) 710-1697.

For more information on the conference, contact Donna Praesel at (254) 710-2866.

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