2001 Celebrating Augustine's Confessions

Pruit Memorial Symposium
Thursday, October 4 - Saturday, October 6, 2001

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Program Description

Augustine’s Confessions is an autobiographical account of his journey from a modest childhood in North Africa, through his conversion in a garden in Milan, to a lengthy and distinguished career as the Bishop of Hippo. Using enormous literary and rhetorical skill, Augustine chronicles a story of education and miseducation and narrates a spiritual quest from the wasteland of sin to the liberation of salvation. The freedom that emerges permits him to move from faith to understanding and to understand the ultimate underpinnings of the relationship between God and the soul. The impact of the Confessions on subsequent Christian theology, literature, history, and philosophy, in both the Catholic and Protestant traditions, is unparalleled.

1600 years later, the 2001 Pruit Memorial Symposium will commemorate this monumental text and celebrate its profound influence. We are pleased to announce that Scott MacDonald (Cornell University), John Smith (Yale University), Colin Starnes (University of King's College-Halifax), Carl Vaught (Baylor University), Anne-Marie Bowery (Baylor University), and David Lyle Jeffrey (Baylor University) will give plenary papers on the Confessions.


Thursday, October 4, 2001

12:30 to 1:30 p.m.


1:30 to 2:00 p.m.


2:00 to 3:20 p.m.

Plenary Session I

  • Anne-Marie Bowery, Baylor University: You Are What You Read: Reading the Books in Augustine's Confessions

3:40 to 5:00 p.m.

Concurrent Sessions I

Augustine and Emotions

  • Jay Morris, University of Virginia: Love for God and Neighbor: Some Ethical Problems
  • John Thorburn, Baylor University: The Conversion of the Senses in Augustine's Confessions
  • Robert Wood, University of Dallas: The Heart in/of Augustine's Confessions

The Hermeneutics of Ascent

  • Robert Clewis, Boston College: The Hermeneutic Principles of the Confessions
  • Timothy Herrman, Ave Maria University: “Te adsumpsisti me”: Ascent or Assumption in Augustine's Confessions?

Keynote Address

  • John E. Smith, Yale University: God, Truth, and the Divided Self

Friday, October 5, 2001

9:00 to 10:20 a.m.

Invited Panel: Augustine and the Classics, Alden Smith, Baylor University, Presiding

  • Frank P. Riga, Canisius College: Regenerative Reading: Augustine and Lewis Reading the Classics
  • Joseph Pucci, Brown University: Desire, Reading, and Language in Confessions 1
  • Preston Edwards, Brown University: Sortes Augustinianae : Confessions 8.12.29 and Petrarch's Ad Familiares 1

11:00 to 12:20 p.m.

Plenary Session II

  • Scott MacDonald, Cornell University: Divided Will and Moral Identity: Augustine's Thinking about Moral Conflict

12:20 to 2:00 p.m.


2:00 to 3:20 p.m.

Plenary Session III

  • David Lyle Jeffrey, Baylor University: Self-examination and the Examination of Texts

3:40 to 5:00 p.m.

Concurrent Sessions II

Placing Augustine in a Philosophical and Theological Context

  • Dennis Sansom, Samford University: The Wisdom of Love Versus the Wisdom of Apathy: The Contrast of St. Augustine and the Stoics
  • Barry David, Notre Dame College: The Philosophical Unity of the Confessions: It is Christ, the Incarnate Word

Dwelling in Augustine's Space

  • Lenore Wright, Baylor University: At Home with Augustine: Architectural Motifs in the Confessions
  • Heidi Marx-Wolf, Santa Barbara City College, Westmount College: Books XII and XIII and the Allegory of Genesis I
  • Marianne Djuth, Canisius College: The Spiritual Geography of the Inner Self and Augustine's Confessions

7:30 to 9:00 p.m.

Plenary Session IV

  • Colin John Starnes, Dalhousie University: The Last Three Books of the Confessions

Saturday, October 6, 2001

9:00 to 10:20 a.m.

Invited Panel: Theological Perspectives on Augustine

  • Brad Green, Union University: Augustine and Contemporary Theology: Friends or Foes?
  • Randall Colton, St. Louis University: Augustine's Confessions and Kierkegaard's Ethics: A Narrative Debt

2:00 to 3:20

Concurrent Sessions III

Comparative Approaches to Augustine

  • Joseph Harder, University of Virginia: Political Theology and the Politics of Autobiography: Augustine and Frederick Douglass
  • Scott Rasnic, Baylor University: The Influence and Relevance of Augustine's Confessions for the Philosophical Hermeneutics of Hans-Georg Gadamer

Augustine on Time and Free Will

  • Henry Piper, Fordham University, Lincoln Center: Four Moments: The Enactment of Time in Augustine's Confessions
  • Mark Sadler: The Development of Augustine's Understanding of Time in the Confessions, Book XI
  • William Frank, University of Dallas: Truth and Personal Freedom in Augustine's Confessions