Skip to content

From the Colloquium, November 2015

Since 2006, the Lilly Fellows Program Director has published a “From the Colloquium” column about four times per year. The idea behind this column is to share some of the common readings from the colloquia of the Lilly Postdoctoral Fellows Program and the Lilly Graduate Fellows Program.

This fall, the weekly colloquium of the residential Lilly Postdoctoral Fellows, led by Founding Director Mark Schwehn, is addressing the question, “How might practices and perspectives from Christian faith and tradition contribute to teaching and scholarship in the contemporary academy?” To start, the colloquium discussed Robert Frost’s poem, “Two Tramps in Mud Time,” which explores themes of vocation, avocation, and justice. The colloquium has subsequently read and discussed texts that address the assumptions, practices, and institutions that shape professional training for academic disciplines. In addition, we have examined works that interrogate those practices and assumptions from Christian or other points of view. The foundation for this conversation is, as it has been for a number of years, Max Weber’s classic “Science as Vocation.” In this 1918 lecture/1919 publication, Weber saw the same processes of rationalization (including a division of labor), secularization, and especially disenchantment at work in universities that he identified more generally in his The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1906) where, in Germany, universities were transitioning from an older model that privileged “character formation” to a newer one that privileged the mastery and production of knowledge. This essay, in elevating dispassionate research as the sine qua non of the academic vocation, revealed the rationale for the ethos of the modern university and specific expressions of that ethos such as academic freedom, the structure of academic departments, benchmarks for promotion and tenure, etc. The goal of the our conversation about this seminal text is to identify the historical and intellectual context of these assumptions and practices that shape who we are as academics, identifying what we see as positive or necessary but also assessing–as Weber himself did–the costs of these developments. Along this same vein, the colloquium read portions of Louis Menand’s The Marketplace of Ideas to assess the continuities from Weber to the present. One line of critique comes from the work of Paul Griffiths on the classic Christian distinction between the vice curiositas—a mastery of knowledge—and the virtue studiositas, a participation in knowledge as a steward of God’s truth.  The colloquium studied Griffith’s essay, “From Curiosity to Studiousness: Catechizing the Appetite for Learning,” in Teaching and Christian Practices, edited by David I. Smith and James K.A. Smith, which summarizes his extended argument along this line in Intellectual Appetite. Finally, the colloquium considered two works that closely examine the idea of “naming,” which, in Genesis 2, has both humanistic and theological importance.  The first is Amy and Leon Kass’s article, “What’s Your Name,” which appeared in First Things in November, 1995.  The Kasses here think through the names we take and give in the collegiate classroom setting and in marriage as a window into identity, work, and power.  The colloquium explored similar themes in portions of Ian McEwan’s novel, Atonement.  As in most years, we also read the classic works by Simone Weil (“The Right Use of School Studies with a View to the Love of God,” in Waiting for God), and Stephanie Paulsell’s (Lilly Fellow ’93-’95) (“Writing as a Spiritual Discipline” in The Scope of our Art, L. Gregory Jones and Paulsell, eds.).  In January, I will discuss the readings in the colloquium in November and December, which include works by James Elkins, Abraham Joshua Heschel, and Christian Wiman.

By Joe Creech

From the Colloquium, Graduate Fellows Edition

Since 2006, the Lilly Fellows Program Director has published a “From the Colloquium” column about four times per year. The idea behind this column is to share some of the common readings from the colloquia of the Lilly Postdoctoral Fellows Program and the Lilly Graduate Fellows Program. These works can be of great value for mentoring programs or faculty development projects at different campuses (or to add to your own reading lists).

Common readings and group discussion have been central to the Lilly Fellows Program’s (LFP) fellowship programs from their start twenty-five years ago. First with the Lilly Postdoctoral Teaching Fellowship program at Valparaiso University starting in 1992 and then with the Lilly Graduate Fellows Program in 2008, Fellows have encountered readings intended to engage Christian thought and practice as they intersect the tasks of teaching and scholarship that make up the work we do in the academy. The readings address these issues on both the personal and institutional level, examining our individual practices as scholars as well as those of our academic institutions (with, of course, a special emphasis on those institutions of higher learning that connect to a church-related mission).

Once a year, we focus on the readings that the three active cohorts of Lilly Graduate Fellows discuss. These Fellows are in their first three years of Graduate school. Each semester, the Lilly Graduate Fellow cohorts select readings that cluster around a particular theme.

So, without further ado, here are some of those readings.

The members of the Fifth Cohort of Lilly Graduate Fellows, who began graduate school and the program in fall 2012 and who just completed their three year program, read and discussed materials focused on the theme “Christianity, Higher Learning, and American Democratic Culture.” This Cohort is mentored by Lisa DeBoer of Westmont College and Michael Patella of Saint John’s University. Having studied George Eliot’s Middlemarch over the summer, the cohort tackled this theme by reading sections of de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, Willa Cather’s My Antonia, Mary Catherine Bateson’s essay, “Composing a Life Story,” Robert Benne’s Quality with Soul, selections from Hughes, Richard T. Hughes and William B. Adrian’s Models for Christian Higher Education: Strategies for Survival and Success in the Twenty-First Century, Josef Pieper’s classic Leisure: The Basis of Culture (a regular text with both the Graduate and Postdoctoral Fellowship colloquia), Alan Jacobs’ essay, “George Eliot: Good Without God,” Tracy Fessenden’s “Secularism, Feminism, Imperialism:  Charlotte Perkins Gilman and the Progress Narrative of U.S. Feminism,” Jon Roberts and James Turner’s The Sacred and Secular University (also popular with the Graduate Fellows), “Facing Reality” from Marilynne Robinson’s The Death of Adam, selections from Charles Taylor’s The Secular Age, and Job and Sawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants.  In the spring term, 2015, as is becoming the custom, the cohort members brought work from their own programs to share with the group.

The members of the Sixth Cohort of Lilly Graduate Fellows, who completed the second year of their fellowship and who began their graduate studies in the fall of 2013, spent the year reflecting on two themes. In the fall, they tackled “Christian Vocation as Active Love in the World.” The Sixth Cohort’s mentors are Jane Kelley Rodeheffer of Pepperdine University and Arlin Migliazzo of Whitworth University. The “spine” text for the fall was Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. The group supplemented that text with Mary Catherine Bateson, “Composing a Life Story,” Allan Gurganus, White People, Sherman Alexie, “The Trial of Thomas Builds the Fire,” Leonid Ouspensky and Vladimir Lossky, The Meaning of Icons, Rowan Williams, Dostoevsky: Language, Faith, and Fiction, and the poetry of Louise Gluck (“The Wild Iris” and “Vespers”), George Herbert (“Love Bade Me Welcome”), Geoffrey Hill (“Lachrimae Amantis”), Gerard Manley Hopkins (“Thou art indeed just, Lord, if I contend’” and “My Own Heart Let Me Have More Pity On”), Mary Karr (“Descending Theology: The Resurrection”), Denise Levertov (“To Live in the Mercy of God” and “For Those Whom the Gods Love Less”), Steve Smith (“The Airy Christ”), Christian Wiman (“And I said to my Soul” and “Five Houses Down”), and Thomas Merton (“When in the Soul of the Serene Disciple”). They also discussed Anthony Domestico’s interview with Christian Wiman, “Prepared for Joy,” in Commonweal (May 2, 2014).

In the spring, the Sixth Cohort addressed the subject, “Living Our Christian Vocation as Teachers and Scholars.”  The primary texts were several classics of both the Graduate and Postdoctoral Fellowship colloquia, including Ken Bain, What the Best College Teachers Do, Andrew Delbanco, College, Arlin C. Migliazzo, ed., Teaching as an Act of Faith, Parker J. Palmer, The Courage to Teach, Parker J. Palmer and Arthur Zajonc, The Heart of Higher Education, James K. A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom, and Barbara Gross Davis, Tools for Teaching. They also engaged Jane Kelley Rodeheffer, “Educating For Justice: Service Learning and Plato’s Republic,” and ‘Assailed By Greater Care’: Revivalist Imagery in Dante’s Portrayal of Cato and the Penitents in Purgatorio II,” Charles Baxter, “Gryphon,” Wayne C. Booth, “What Little I Think I Know About Teaching,” J. D. Chapman, “Send Your Kid to the Ivy League,” William Deresiewicz, “Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League,” Thomas Merton, “Learning To Live,” Vivian Gussin Paley, Wally’s Stories:  Conversations in the Kindergarten, Kathryn Tanner, “Why Are We Here?,” Lionel Trilling, “Of this Time, of that Place,” and the poetry of Yehuda Amichaids (“The School Where I Studied”), Judy Brown (“Fire”), Elizabeth Carlson (“Imperfection”), Emily Dickinson (“Tell all the Truth but tell it slant”), John Fox (“When Someone Deeply Listens to You”), Denise Levertov (“Witness”), Mary Oliver (“The Journey”), Rainer Maria Rilke (“I Am too Alone in the World, and Not Alone Enough”), Jellaludin Rumi (“Two Kinds of Intelligence”), William Butler Yeats (“Earth, Fire and Water”), and Al Zolynas (“Love in the Classroom—for My Students”).

Members of the Seventh Cohort of Lilly Graduate Fellows, who began graduate work in fall, 2014, with mentors Paul Contino of Pepperdine University and Susan Felch of Calvin College, addressed the topic, “The Fellowship of Pilgrims” in fall, 2014, and the topic, “Midway in the Journey of Our Lives,” in spring, 2015. To grapple with “The Fellowship of Pilgrims,” the cohort used as its “spine” text Augustine’s Confessions, and, in addition, read Wayne Booth’s “Introduction” from The Company we Keep, Paul Griffith’s, The Vice of Curiosity, Robert Kiely’s, Blessed and Beautiful, the classic by Stephanie Paulsell, “Writing as a Spiritual Discipline,” from Paulsell and L. Gregory Jones, The Scope of Our Art, Christine D. Pohl, Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition, Susan Felch’s “Doubt and the Hermeneutics of Delight,” Rowan Williams’ The Dwelling of the light: Praying with Icons of Christ, and Simone Weil’s classic, “Reflections on the Right Use of School Studies” in Waiting for God. In the spring, to address the theme “Midway in the Journey of our Lives,” the “spine” text was, not surprisingly, Dante’s Inferno, along with Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung’s Glittering Vices (which as become especially popular with the Graduate Fellows), C.S. Lewis, “The Inner Ring,” and Josef Pieper, The Four Cardinal Virtues.

Posted by Joe Creech

Some Good News from Feminismxianity

We always like hearing about the schools in our National Network – what they are up to, what programs they are developing, etc. Just as much as we like to hear about what former postdoctoral fellows are doing.  Today, we get a bit of both in the recent post from former fellow, Caryn Riswold, over at her excellent blog, feminismxianity.  Riswold, who is also a member of our National Network Board and LFP representative for Illinois College, reviews the latest “good news about religious higher education” appearing in Religious News Service and Christianity Today.

Riswold’s post reminds readers of the important role the LFP can and does play in continuing the ecumenical dialogue that happens within our network of schools.  I am particularly drawn to her reminder that  “Church-related higher education, like Christianity itself, brings together people who don’t agree on all things.”  The LFP continues to provide a space and forum for diverse network schools to engage in conversation about their respective institutions.  One thing from my time with the LFP that I have found remarkable is that representatives from the different faith traditions come together at national conferences or in regional gatherings to share best practices.  These are diverse schools not only in matters of faith, but also in size, research and teaching orientation, and in geography. They all share concerns about faculty development and mentoring, preservation of tradition and faith, and maintaining institutions that provide a solid foundation to their students.

Go check out Riswold’s latest post.

Call for Papers: The Spirit of Sports

Spirit of SportsBaylor University‘s Institute for Faith and Learning recently announced a Call for Papers for its upcoming conference, The Spirit of Sports.  This conference is a part of Baylor’s Symposium on Faith and Culture and will be held November 5 to 7, 2015.  This symposium “will explore, from the perspective of religious faith, the significance of sports in our lives, especially the ways that contemporary sports both support and compromise the cultivation of human excellence and our relationships with others and God.”

The deadline for proposals is July 31, 2015.  For more information, including how to submit proposals, see Baylor’s conference site.

From the Colloquium – A Semester Wrap Up

The semester has come to an end here at Valparaiso University.  Grades are in and graduation is set for May 16 and 17.  The Postdoctoral Fellows will be donning cap and gowns to walk as members of the Valpo faculty.  They started the year with that rig at the beginning of the academic year for Postdoc convocation 2014Convocation; it seems fitting that we will all dress up once again as the undergraduates and law students process out into the world.  Some of our fellows are doing just that as well.  Our second-year fellows, Ian Clausen and Katherine Kennedy Steiner are leaving for positions at Villanova University and the University of Toronto.  Ian will start in the fall as an Arthur J. Ennis Fellow in the Augustine and Cultural Seminar Program.  Kate will be a Mellon Fellow at the Pontifical Institute for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto for 2015-2016.  One of our first year fellows, Jennifer Illig leaves us for Mount Saint Mary’s Monastery in Wrenthem, MA where she begins her new life as a postulant.

These fellows will begin a new phase in their lives. They leave the LFP and Linwood House and join the ranks of Former Fellows and live their vocations in different ways.  The colloquium readings for the second half of the spring semester were then fitting as we explored various manifestations (and definitions) of vocation, scholarly pursuits, and teaching within the context of higher education.  Typically, the readings and discussions at this point in the year remain rich, but they tend to move in more personal and practical directions.  The shared conversations between established faculty mentors and participants of the colloquium and the fellows get more to the meat of teaching, what it looks like in our classrooms, how we see ourselves at a particular university, and all the while contemplating the Future of Higher Education. (Yes, a lot goes on in the hour and a half we meet.)

Our readings largely focused on the nature of the humanities and vocation in both public and private/religiously affiliated institutions. We explored vocation and the growing adjunctification of the academy. We asked ourselves “how practices and perspectives from Christian faith and tradition contribute to [our] teaching and scholarship.”  With that we examined how we personally define vocation.  Is it a calling to a state in life or is it a call to meet the needs of the world in whatever we do?  Or both? We rounded out of semester with selections from Mark Schwehn and Dorothy Bass’ Leading Lives that Matter: What We Should Do and Who We Should Be. In particular, we read Bonnie Miller-McLemore’s “Generativity Crises of My Own,” Abigail Zuger’s “Defining a Doctor,” Martha Nussbaum’s “Interview by Bill Moyers,” and Mary Catherine Bateson’s “Composing a Life Story.”  We ended our spring colloquium with a rousing discussion of how we hope to find compromise and balance in our lives – how we will be dedicated teachers, present for our students, all the while committed to our scholarship, and yet be equally present for our friends and families.  What that looks like exactly is anyone’s guess!  The conversation and fellowship continued over a delightful pot-luck supper.  As spring finally came to our door, we look forward to what comes next.  Linwood spring 2014


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 356 other followers

%d bloggers like this: