Fall 2022 Conference Round-Up

A snippet from my paper from the Neoplatonism event.

The Fall semester of 2022 was an incredibly busy one. In addition to teaching three courses (Humanities 101, my Medieval Europe survey, and a senior-levels seminar on ‘Mysticism & Gender’), I presented research at multiple conferences. I’ll sketch out some brief highlights here:

  • In October 2022, I presented a paper entitled “Meister Eckhart, Max Weber, and the Economic Exegesis of Mary and Martha” at Villanova’s Patristic, Medieval, & Renaissance conference. Sharing the session on ‘Overcoming the Active-Contemplative Distinction’ with my fellow American Cusanus Society stalwarts Erin Risch Zoutendam and Sam Dubbelman, I discussed how Eckhart deployed economic rhetoric in his sermons and scriptural interpretations, which in turn helped give rise to Johann Tauler’s more explicitly economic mysticism. I then tried to indicate how we can build upon Weber’s century-old insight that modern economic behaviour is, at least in part, shaped by Christian lines of thinking that date back at least to these German-vernacular-using Dominican theologians of the fourteenth century.
  • In early November, I participated in a conference on the history of Neoplatonism organized by Gregory Moss (Chinese University of Hong Kong). My contribution, “The Temporality of Truth and Contradiction in Augustine of Hippo and Nicholas of Cusa,” explored the rather distinct approaches adopted by the late ancient North African and the late medieval German when it comes to associating (or not associating) objective truth with utter timelessness. For Augustine, awakening to atemporal truth played a crucial role in his own Neoplatonic journey to certitude. For Cusanus, however, proper timelessness coincided with the unimaginable simultaneity of contradictory opposites; eternity was, in a sense, beyond the very distinction between truth and contradiction.
  • Later that same November, I linked up with networks of scholars at two back-to-back conferences: the annual meetings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association (in New Orleans) and the American Academy of Religion (in Denver). At the ACPA, I delivered a paper with an overly complicated name: “Should a Non-Presentist Philosophy of Time Be Considered a Praeambulum to an Augustinian Sense of the Divine?” That question could arguably be re-phrased as: “In order to adhere to Augustine’s notion of a timeless God, do you also have to agree with Augustine that the present phase of time isn’t really real?” At AAR, I did not present a new paper, but I did meet up with my fellow members on the Steering Committee of the Augustine & Augustinianisms Program Unit. We’re hoping to run some very cool sessions over the years to come, perhaps even including a series of offerings relating to Foucault’s nod to Augustinian confessio in Confessions of the Flesh (the fourth volume in his History of Sexuality).

In 2023, I plan to continue disseminating my research as widely afield as possible, provided that scheduling and funding make this possible. I can say with some certainly that I’ll be giving a paper on Catherine of Siena at the annual meeting of the Renaissance Society of America in Puerto Rico this March. I am also hoping to share more work on Nicholas of Cusa at the inaugural conference of the Cusanus Society of the United Kingdom and Ireland in Scotland this June. Fingers crossed…

A snippet of my ACPA paper.