New Faculty Colloquium - Marginalized Prophet Figures: Forgiveness in the Age of Reason

Dr. Karen Pagani

Wed, October 21, 2009 | GAR 2.112

4:45 PM

Dr. Pagani will discuss her current book project, Marginalized Prophet Figures: Forgiveness in the Age of Reason, interrogates what can best be defined as a discursive crisis surrounding the concept of forgiveness as it was understood in purely secular terms during what can broadly be conceived as the long period of the European Enlightenment, the late seventeenth, eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. ‘Discursive crisis’ denotes in this context a peculiar situation in which a concept proves to be incompatible with a specific communicative system’s historically determined vocabulary but cannot be abandoned for both ideological and practical reasons. Through an historical analysis of the literary, philosophical, theological and political discourses of the period, this project provides a nuanced understanding as to why forgiveness was so difficult to speak about during this period.  In the conclusion she will explore how these difficulties may still influence our understanding of the concept of forgiveness today.  Major intellectual figures studied in the work include: Corneille, Madame de Lafayette, Pascal, Racine, Voltaire and the Encylcopedists, Hannah Arendt and Vladimir Jankelevitch.

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