On Being Vulnerable: “Crisis” & Transformation

Date(s) - 09/21/2018 - 09/22/2018
All Day


The Humanities Center’s Annual Symposium will take a new format this year and will feature nine distinguished guests from around the world and three of our own faculty. The first of two days being held on Friday, September 21st on BYU campus in the JFSB, and the second on Saturday September 22nd at Sundance Resort. All sessions will be plenary. More information, including registration, can be found on the symposium’s website at: vulnberabilitysymposium.byu.edu


Theme: On Being Vulnerable: “Crisis” & Transformation

How do humanities disciplines register feelings and meanings associated with vulnerability? One common response to vulnerability, whether for individuals or institutions, inclines toward protectiveness and self-defense, and understandably so. But vulnerability also opens us to transformation. What might the prospects of dynamic change mean in an era of widespread “crisis” in the humanities, when humanities disciplines are increasingly portrayed as indefensible? Might the greatest chance for the survival of the humanities depend, ironically, on how their proponents embrace that very trait?


“Rumination and Moral Time: Forms of Thinking in Critical Times”

Amanda Anderson, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Humanities and English and the Director of the Cogut Institute for the Humanities at Brown University



“Weak Environmentalism: William Blake and Elizabeth Bishop in the Anthropocene”

Wai Chee Dimock, William Lampson Professor of English and American Studies at Yale University




“Poetic Thinking and Epistemic Vulnerabilities”

Laurent Dubreuil, Professor of Comparative Literature, Romance Studies and Cognitive Science at Cornell University; Distinguished Professor and International Chair of Transcultural Theory at Tsinghua University




“The Vulnerable Image: On the Imago Dei”

Kevin Hart, Edwin B. Kyle Professor of Christian Studies in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia




“Poetic Form and the Phenomenologies of Compassion”

Kimberly Johnson, Professor of English at BYU




“Vulnerability Beyond Resistance”

Jason Kerr, Assistant Professor of English at BYU




“Weak Humanities”

Christopher Newfield, Professor of Literature and American studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara




“Blackness in Public: Reading and Righting Vulnerability across Generations, Geographies, and Genres”

Ifeoma Nwankwo, Associate Provost for Strategic Initiatives & Partnerships and Associate Professor of English & American Studies at Vanderbilt University


Transformative Experience”

L.A. Paul, Eugene Falk Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and Professorial Fellow at St Andrews University in Scotland



“Archipelagic Theorizing: Iridescence and Vulnerability on Geotemporal Foreshores”

Brian Roberts, Associate Professor of English at BYU




“The Values of Imperfection in an Age of Human Optimization”

Mads Rosendahl Thomsen, Professor with Special Responsibilities in Comparative Literature at Aarhus University, Denmark



“No Word Came:” On Vulnerability and Spiritual Crisis, and Promise, in the Humanities

Matthew Wickman, Founding Director BYU Humanities Center and Professor of English at BYU






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