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The Prophetic Word: Poetry, Philosophy and Theology in Conversation

Power of the Word International Conference V - The Prophetic Word: Poetry, Philosophy and Theology in Conversation

Image: Michelangelo, The Libyan Sibyl (Sistine Chapel) - Power of the Word International Conference V - The Prophetic Word: Poetry, Philosophy and Theology in Conversation Download iCal Event
Event date: Wednesday 13th September, 4:00pm to Saturday 16th September, 1:00pm

Location: Regent’s Park College, University of Oxford

The Power of the Word International Conference V

Power of the Word International Conference V - The Prophetic Word: Poetry, Philosophy and Theology in Conversation    Regents College Oxford Logo - Power of the Word International Conference V - The Prophetic Word: Poetry, Philosophy and Theology in Conversation





Organized by the Heythrop Institute for Religion and Society (Heythrop College, University of London) and the Oxford Centre for Christianity and Culture, Regent’s Park College, University of Oxford).

The fifth Power of the Word international conference, to be held at Oxford in September 2017, focuses on the prophetic genius of literature, particularly of poetry. ‘Prophetic genius’ is understood here to be that relentless impulse of literature to challenge the world from which it has arisen and, looking beyond, to propose alternative visions, practicable or utopian, of individual and collective fulfilment. In some authors – Dante, Milton and Blake are three obvious examples – the prophetic word is overtly religious, in others – Virgil, Shelley and Yeats, say – it is not. Often the distinction becomes blurred, as in the poems of H.D., Denise Levertov and Allen Ginsberg. The conference will explore this theme in conversation with theology, philosophy, the three main Abrahamic religions and Greek and Latin literature and learning, and address some universal questions. For example, what do these various traditions and their understanding of the prophetic have in common? Are they mostly different or even in conflict? How do their audiences discern true from false prophets? How do they know when ‘good spirits not evil ones choose poets for their instruments’ (Czesław Miłosz)? Can poets really claim to have a prophetic authority comparable to that attributed in Scripture to the prophets? How persuasive is Seamus Heaney’s sense of the ‘redress of poetry’, of its power to stimulate alternative ways of being in the world?

The programme will include contributions by literary scholars, creative writers, theologians and philosophers, all working on texts and authors from different backgrounds and traditions. Confirmed keynote speakers:

  • John Barton (University of Oxford) “The Hebrew Prophets: Seers or Poets?”
  • Tina Beattie (University of Roehampton) “Hope as Prophecy: Interpreting the Silence of Holy Saturday”
  • William Franke (Vanderbilt University) “Poetry as Prophecy: From Anthropological Origins to Postmodern Apocalypses”
  • Michèle Le Dœuff (ENS Paris) (tbc)
  • Christopher Rowland (University of Oxford) ‘Diversely and in many ways God spoke by the Prophets’: the perspectives of the New Testament and the texts and images of William Blake on ‘the Prophetic Word’
  • Alessandro Schiesaro (University of Manchester) “Empedocles and the Prophetic Word”
  • Mona Siddiqui (University of Edinburgh) “The Poetry of Piety: Between Divine Word and Prophetic Word”

The Conference will host a public poetry-reading event with Jay Parini and Mark Burrows and a public lecture in relation to the topic of the conference.

CALL FOR PAPERS

The Power of the Word 2017 invites contributions from established scholars and research students in the fields of literary studies, biblical studies, theology and philosophy. Theoretical reflections as well as discussions of individual texts and authors from different countries and traditions are welcome. If you wish to give a paper (20 minutes), please send a title and abstract of no more than 250 words, together with a brief curriculum vitae to the executive team at poweroftheword@heythrop.ac.uk by 10 February 2017. Please include your name on files containing your abstract and CV for ease of reference.

Within the theme, broadly defined as above, topics that may be addressed include:

  • Prophetic voices in the ancient world (Tiresias; Cassandra; the Sibyls)
  • Prophecy as poetry and poetry as prophecy in the Abrahamic religions
  • The theology of prophecy in the Abrahamic religions
  • Prophecy, providence and eschatology
  • The poet as prophet, the poet as seer
  • The theologian as prophet
  • The philosopher as prophet
  • True and false prophecy, and issues of discernment

PROVISIONAL PROGRAMME

Wednesday 13th September

16.00     Registration and coffee
17.00     WELCOME
17.30     JOHN BARTON: “The Hebrew Prophets: Seers or Poets?”
19.00     Opening Dinner
20.15     MONA SIDDIQUI: “The Poetry of Piety: Between Divine Word and Prophetic Word” (public lecture)

Thursday 14th September

09.30     Short Papers (3)
11.00     Coffee
11.30     CHRIS ROWLAND: ‘Diversely and in many ways God spoke by the Prophets’: the perspectives of the New Testament and the texts and images of William Blake on ‘the Prophetic Word’
13.00     Lunch
14.15     Short Papers (3)
15.45     Tea
16.00     ALESSANDRO SCHIESARO: “Empedocles and the Prophetic Word”
15.15     Short papers (3)
19.00     Dinner
20.30     Poetry evening

Friday 15th September

09.30     Short papers (3)
11.00     Coffee
11.30     MICHELE LE DOEUFF (TBC)
13.00     Lunch
14.15     Short Papers (3)
15.45     Tea
16.00     TINA BEATTIE: “Hope as Prophecy: Interpreting the Silence of Holy Saturday”
17.15     Short papers (3)

Saturday 16th September

09.30     WILLIAM FRANKE: “Poetry as Prophecy: From Anthropological Origins to Postmodern Apocalypses”
10.30     Coffee
11.00     Short  papers (3)

Bookings

The fee for the conference will be £95. Further booking information to be posted shortly.

Accommodation

Regent's Park College: 50 rooms available (no en suite available)
Lady Margaret Hall: some en suite rooms available
Also see http://conference-oxford.com/bb-self-catering and enter relevant dates

Hotels close to Regent's are as follows:

Cotswold Lodge
Old Parsonage Hotel
Royal Oxford Hotel
Vanbrugh House Hotel
Mercure Oxford Eastgate Hotel
Macdonald Randolph Hotel
The Richmond Hotel

Contacts for conference

Call for Papers: poweroftheword@heythrop.ac.uk

Further enquiries: Pippa Springett at conferences@heythrop.ac.uk or David Lonsdale at d.lonsdale@heythrop.ac.uk

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The Power of the Word international conferences aim to initiate, foster and support conversations between creative writers, literary scholars, philosophers, theologians, biblical scholars and students of religions on topics of common interest and concern. From their beginning in 2011 their deliberately interdisciplinary character has been a strong feature with an appeal to a wide range of scholars and students. Initiated by Heythrop College, University of London, in 2011, the conferences have been held in London (2011 and 2012), Gdańsk (2013) and Rome (2015).

Advisory Board (Conference V)

Professor Piero Boitani (Sapienza University of Rome)
Dr Francesca Bugliani Knox (Research Associate, Heythrop College, University of London)
Professor Mark Burrows (University of Applied Sciences, Bochum)
Professor Paul Fiddes (Regent’s Park College, University of Oxford)
Dr Michael Kirwan (Director, the Heythrop Institute for Religion and Society)
David Lonsdale (Heythrop College, University of London)
Professor Jay Parini (Middlebury College, Vermont)
Dr Antonio Spadaro SJ (Director, Civiltà Cattolica, Rome)
Professor John Took (University College London)
Professor Jean Ward (University of Gdańsk)

Academic Planning Group

Dr Francesca Bugliani Knox, Dr Jamie Callison, Professor Paul Fiddes, Dr Michael Kirwan, David Lonsdale and Professor John Took

Executive Team

Dr Jamie Callison and David Lonsdale


* Michèle Le Dœuff (ENS Paris)
French philosopher and playwright who teaches at the Ècole Normale Superieure in Paris. Her works, including The Philosophical Imaginary and The Sex of Knowing, challenge a philosophical tradition that privileges male rationality.


Image: Michelangelo, The Libyan Sibyl (Sistine Chapel)