The question, “What work of literature has most influenced
my work?” will be answered by a half-dozen professors from
around the country during the Loemker 2002 Conference, titled “Literature
and Moral Wisdom,” to be held at Emory, Sept. 13–14.
According to the subject matter, those works come from a wide variety
of sources. Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses,
the Marquis de Sade’s 100 Days of Sodom, James Joyce’s
Ulysses and the Emmy Award-winning television show The
X-Files are among the texts to be explored over the two-day
conference. All events will be held in the Azalea Room of the Emory
Sponsored by the philosophy department and named for innovative
professor Leroy Loemker, this installment of the 4-year-old series
aims to investigate how the arts—primarily literature and
film—nourish the belief that the mind and the body are entwined
in the thought process.
Loemker, a specialist in German philosophy, began his tenure at
Emory in 1929. He was one of the first Charles Howard Candler professors
and served as dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences from
1946–52. He died in 1985.
According to co-organizer Cynthia Willett, the conference is an
ideal way to showcase the interdisciplinary aspects of philosophy.
“There’s a broader humanistic aspect involved,”
said Willett, associate professor of philosophy. She collaborated
with Massee-Martin/NEH Distinguished Teaching Professor and fellow
philosophy Associate Professor Pamela Hall on the conference organization.
“This is not just an academic endeavor,” Willett continued.
“This is also a way to think about how these things practically
affect our lives.”
Over two days, six speakers from around the country from disciplines
that include philosophy, creative writing and women’s studies
will explore the convergence of art, film, literature, thought and
Douglas Kellner, Kneller Chair in Philosophy and Edu-cation at UCLA,
will kick off the conference at 4 p.m., Sept. 13, with his address,
“Pynchon, 2001 and The X-Files: Cultural Studies Beyond the
Kellner, an expert on social theory, politics, history and culture
will discuss the varied discipline of cultural studies using the
texts of literature (Pynchon), film (Stanley Kubrick’s 2001:
A Space Odyssey) and television (The X-Files) as examples
of how culture can circulate between so-called “high”
and “low” forms.
From there, the conference’s subject matter only becomes more
provocative. Other topics include how narratives affect morality,
the distillation of literary works into narrow philosophical categories
(like ethics, political theory or metaphysics) and a discussion
of several themes of Salman Rushdie’s book The Satanic
Verses, which was branded as blasphemous by the late Iranian
leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Jim Grimsley, senior writer-in-residence in the creative writing
department, is the lone Emory faculty member scheduled to speak.
He will wrap up the conference Saturday, Sept. 14, with his appropriately
titled banquet address, “De Sade and the Dinner Table.”
He will cover de Sade’s use of meals in 100 Days of Sodom.
The Loemker Conference series began in 1998 and is held every two
years. The last event, in 2000, was a conference on stoicism.
For more information on the Loemker Conference, contact the philosophy
department (404-727-6577) or visit the website, www.emory.edu/PHILOSOPHY/Loemker2002.