Thin Piece: Nietzsche's On the Genealogy of Morals January 23-25, 2014
Though On the Genealogy of Morals is one of Nietzsche’s most enduring and influential works, it is also among his most difficult and widely misunderstood. In part, the difficulty stems from Nietzsche’s distinctive style—though ostensibly a philosopher, he writes in an aggressively polemical mode that can obscure the precise meaning of many of his claims. Adding to this difficulty is, moreover, the inherent complexity of many of the concepts at work throughout the text. Indeed, while generations of commentators have unpacked and reworked terms like “genealogy,” “ressentiment,” and “value,” at times their meanings still remain unclear, and many contemporary scholars still disagree over how best to make use of the concepts they name.
This seminar will revisit Nietzsche’s seminal text in order to come to a better understanding of the aims, stakes, and influence of On the Genealogy of Morals as it comes to us today. It therefore focuses, in one vein, on Nietzsche’s approach to style, exploring its relationship to both his philosophical aims and to the broader context from which Nietzsche comes. We know that Nietzsche was deeply engaged with the literary and cultural milieu in which he lived. To what extent should we conclude that his style was in some way an expression of that milieu? That Nietzsche is a powerful stylist is beyond dispute, but how should we understand the relationship between the way Nietzsche writes and the claims the Genealogy makes?
In another vein, the seminar explores the complexities of Nietzsche’s concepts themselves, with a particular focus on terms like “ressentiment,” “genealogy” and the relationship between nature and culture as it exists throughout the text. “Ressentiment” is perhaps one of Nietzsche’s most oft-repeated terms, but what exactly does it mean? Subsequent generations of scholars have made abundant use of “genealogy” as an historical method, but in what sense does the text actually constitute a “genealogy” of morals? And while Nietzsche is widely regarded as a naturalist, the precise meaning of his naturalism remains the subject of considerable debate, especially where our understanding of the relationship between nature and culture is concerned. What exactly is “nature” for Nietzsche? In what way does it give rise to “culture” in his thought?
Finally, the seminar investigates the influence of Nietzsche on subsequent generations of writers and scholars, especially those who have come to his work from a religious point of view. On the Genealogy of Morals constitutes one of the most withering attacks on the tenets of Christianity to have emerged from the Western philosophical canon, but Nietzsche has nonetheless been a touchstone for many theologians working in his wake. In what way has On the Genealogy of Morals influenced subsequent generations of theological reflection? And, more broadly, how have his ideas been received by scholars working in history, psychology, philosophy and other related fields?
In revisiting On the Genealogy of Morals and the ideas that come from it, the seminar hopes, in one sense, to come to a better understanding of an immensely influential and historically important philosophical text. More fundamentally, though, the seminar also works to clarify the importance of On the Genealogy of Morals both to past generations of scholars and to anyone interested in the nature of morality as we understand it today.
Speakers include James Conant (Philosophy), Glenn Most (Classics and Social Thought), Ryan Coyne (Divinity), David Wellberry (German and Social Thought), William Schweiker (Divinity) and Willemien Otten (Divinity).
Thursday, January 23, 2014
8:15 a.m. Shuttle leaves Hyatt Place Hotel for the Bartlett Hall (5640 South University Avenue).
8:45 a.m. Check-in, coffee
9:00 a.m. Welcome and Opening Remarks
- Elizabeth O'Connor Chandler, Director, Midwest Faculty Seminar
9:15 a.m. Presentation 1
10:30 a.m. Coffee
10:45 a.m. Presentation 2
12:00 noon Lunch (on your own)
- Preparing Future Faculty Luncheon (for those taking part) 12:15-1:30 at Bartlett Hall
2:00 p.m. Presentation 3
3:15 p.m. Coffee
3:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Participant Discussion Groups
- Group A
- Group B
5:05 p.m. Shuttle leaves Bartlett Hall for La Petite Folie
5:30 p.m. Reception and Dinner at La Petite Folie.
- 8:00 p.m. Shuttle leaves La Petite Folie for the Hyatt Place Hotel.
Friday, January 24, 2014:
8:15 a.m. Shuttle leaves Hyatt Place Hotel for Bartlett Hall (5640 South University Avenue).
9:00 a.m. Presentation 4
10:15 a.m. Coffee
10:30 a.m. Presentation 5
11:45 a.m. Lunch and Report on Discussion Groups (Lunch will be provided)
12:15 p.m. to 2:00pm Participant Discussion Groups
- Group A
- Group B
2:05 p.m. Free Afternoon (Shuttle leaves Bartlett Hall for the Hyatt Place Hotel.)
Saturday, January 25, 2014:
8:30 a.m. Shuttle leaves Hyatt Place Hotel for Bartlett Hall (5640 South University Avenue).
9:15 a.m. Presentation 6
10:30 a.m. Report on Discussion Groups
10:45 a.m. Participant Discussion Groups and Wrap-Up
- Discussion groups will meet as one in Bartlett Hall
12:00 p.m. Adjournment
- (Shuttle leaves the Bartlett Hall for the Hyatt Place Hotel at 12:10 p.m.)
Recordings of conference presentations will be available to participants after the event.
We are pleased that you will be joining us for a Midwest Faculty Seminar. To make your stay at the University of Chicago as pleasant as possible, we have tried to anticipate the questions you may have regarding the organization of the seminar and your accommodations. If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 773.834.4439 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Location: The seminar will meet on the University of Chicago Campus. Please refer to the campus map for directions: http://maps.uchicago.edu/campus.shtml. Seminars begin at 8:45 a.m. on the Thursday of the conference and conclude by 12:00 p.m. on Saturday. Persons with a disability who believe they may need assistance should call us at least one week in advance of the seminar.
Schedule: A seminar schedule will be sent to you via email and regular mail at least two weeks prior to the seminar. Click here to see a sample schedule. Please note that the seminar begins at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday and will end by 1:00 p.m. on Saturday.
Accommodations: All seminar participants who request housing will stay at the Hyatt Place Hotel, 5225 South Harper Ave, approximately 6 blocks from campus. The phone number is (773) 725-5300. The hotel fee is paid for by the Midwest Faculty Seminar. You will, however, be responsible for incidental charges such as telephone usage and meals (to be paid during your stay). If you have requested a single room, you will be asked to pay for half the costs of the room (approximately $50/night or $150/total). If applicable, you will receive an invoice once hotel reservations have been finalized.
Unless otherwise specified, a room has been reserved for you to check in on Wednesday before the conference, after 3pm, and out on Saturday, by noon. You will need to check out before you come to the seminar on Saturday morning, but you will be able to leave your bags at the front desk in case you need to leave from the hotel (i.e. if you need to catch an airport shuttle). You may also bring your bags to campus if you plan on leaving town directly from the University. If you are planning to arrive or depart at different times, please let us know in advance
Daily shuttle service to and from the campus will be provided by the hotel (see sample schedule for times).
Transportation: For those flying into Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, Omega Limousine Service is an inexpensive method of traveling to the Chicago Lake Shore Hotel. If you wish to make reservations or have further questions about their regularly scheduled airport routes, please call Omega Limousine Service at (773) 734-6688 or book online at http://omegashuttle.com/ . For those flying into Midway Airport, a taxicab is most convenient and will cost approximately $30.
Parking: Parking at the hotel is free, though if you wish to drive to campus, a public parking garage is located on the southeast corner of 55th Street and Ellis Avenue. The rate is $4 per hour with a $20 maximum fee. Parking in this garage is free from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. and on weekends. There is ample free parking surrounding the university, though if you don’t arrive early in the morning it can be very difficult to get a spot. Parking is generally most plentiful on the Midway, which is directly south of the university, between 59th and 60th Street.
Meals: Following the final session on Thursday, all participants are cordially invited to a dinner. On Friday, lunch will be provided. Please let us know as soon as possible if you have any special dietary needs so that I can plan the lunch with the caterer. Participants are responsible for all other meals, though we will have coffee, tea and water available throughout the three days and will have light breakfast items available on Saturday morning. A complimentary breakfast is provided by the hotel.
If you have any questions regarding the above, please do not hesitate to contact us by phone or by email at email@example.com. We look forward to meeting you at the next Midwest Faculty Seminar.
What are the Digital Humanities November 14-16, 2013
Digital technologies have longed promised to alter the way that humanists approach their work. Only recently, however, have new media forms and novel statistical methods begun to make major inroads into the broad range of disciplines that constitute the humanities as a field. This seminar explores the contours of the humanities digital turn, with equal attention given both to the ways in which humanists are approaching new media studies and to how data mining, statistical modeling and other quantitative methods are enabling scholars to pose new questions about various “old” media forms. It therefore asks, for instance, about the status of video games as works of art, about the ethical and political questions raised by life in online worlds, and about the ways in which digital technology is transforming the study of visual culture. The seminar also gives equal time, however, to scholars interested in the work of cinemetrics, the digital analysis of classical texts, and the ways in which “distance reading” and data analysis can give humanists new tools through which to examine literary and cultural history anew. Its goal, in other words, is to survey the breadth and depth of the digital humanities as a scholarly enterprise in order to come to a better sense of how digital scholarship is impacting the work in the humanities today.
Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morals January 23-25, 2014
Though Friedrich Nietzsche produced many remarkable works, On the Genealogy of Morals is widely regarded as his most influential. For all its importance to philosophers and others who have followed in his wake, however, the precise meaning of many of Nietzsche's claims about the nature of morality remain in dispute, while his influence on fields as diverse as philology, theology, and anthropology is sometimes hard to see. This seminar therefore reconsiders On the Genealogy of Morals and its influence on the intellectual history of the last two centuries, with a particular emphasis on detailed examination of some of Nietzsche's key terms and their reception throughout subsequent generations of scholarly investigations. What exactly does Nietzsche mean by "genealogy"? What is the proper understanding of ressentiment? What's wrong with Judeo-Christian morality as it existed in Nietzsche's time? How have Nietzsche's answers to these questions informed the ways that scholars across the humanities and social sciences have approached these issues since? Through an exploration of many of the key problems and controversies that have occupied readers of On the Genealogy of Morals over the years, the seminar aims to develop a more detailed understanding of this philosophical seminal text.
Capitalism and its Futures February 20-22, 2014
Not long ago, many economists and policy makers regarded the big questions of economics as essentially solved. Indeed, in the aftermath of the Cold War, capitalism's hegemony was largely unquestioned, and economic policy was regarded as sufficient to smooth out the worst effects of the modern business cycle. In the face of growing inequality, perpetual economic crisis, and looming climate catastrophe, however, the foundations of this political and economic consensus has been thrown increasingly into doubt. This seminar therefore explores the state of capitalism and its futures, focusing in particular on questions of growth, inequality, ecology and sustainability as they are conceptualized in the present. What, for instance, is the history of growth as an economic idea? Can we continue to assume its centrality as we move into the future? What, moreover, is the place of inequality in our current state of economic affairs? Can inequality as it exists today be justified? Or does it throw the long term stability of our economy into doubt? What does global warming presage for the future of the global economy? Can analyses of it be approached in purely economic terms? Or does it pose a problem of such enormity so as to overwhelm the boundaries of economic thought? What, in the end, is the future of capitalism as a system of providing for the general welfare? Can it continue to provide for human need in its present form? Or do contemporary concerns about inequality and ecological crisis force a re-thinking of how we approach the intersections of economics and human well being?
The Future of Higher Education April 24-26, 2014
Why does college cost so much? What should students learn? What is a college education actually good for? These are not new questions, but the recent economic downturn, coupled with increased interest in MOOCs and other forms of online learning, have made them of particular concern for students, parents, faculty and administrators alike. This seminar explores these questions, with an eye towards re-tracing the path by which higher education, once a heavily subsidized public good, has come to the straits in which it finds itself today. What, historically, has driven growth in higher education costs? Where are new cost-savings to be found? How have we thought about the value of the liberal arts over the years? What is their chief justification now? What has been the relationship between higher education and private business in the past? And what defines that complex set of relationships today? At a time when student debt is on the rise and job prospects are seemingly dimmer all around, this seminar hopes to come to terms with the place of higher education in an increasingly stagnant economy, and thus with how educators and administrators can better approach the problems confronting higher education today.