North American Levinas Society 12th Annual International Conference

The North American Levinas Society was established in 2006 with an inaugural meeting and conference at Purdue University. This historic meeting brought together Levinas scholars and activists from six continents and at least a dozen different countries. The inaugural conference was followed by a second historic conference attended, for the first time, by members of Levinas’ family–who have continued to attend our annual events every year. Since then, we have held annual conferences in the U.S., Canada, and France. Loyola University Chicago is proud to host our 12th annual conference in 2017, “Levinas, The Material, and Ethics.”

Conference Information:

Location: Loyola University Chicago (Lakeshore Campus)
Chicago, IL, USA

When: July 24-27, 2017

Plenary Speakers:
Adriaan Peperzak, Loyola University Chicago
Tom Sparrow, Slippery Rock University

Annual Talmudic Lecture: Georges Hansel, SIREL

Director: Hugh Miller, Loyola University Chicago
Associate Director: Jacob Torbeck, Loyola University Chicago


“The Other’s material needs are my spiritual needs,” Levinas says, quoting Rabbi Israel Salanter. “In corpore-ality,” he says in Otherwise Than Being, is to be found “the duty to give to the Other even the bread out of one’s own mouth and the coat from one’s shoulders.” Matter and corporeality are thus at the center of ethical service, of “hospitality.”

But the general problem of matter, materiality, corporeality is much broader. In more traditional philosophical systems, ancient, medieval, modern, and postmodern, the question of matter is of great importance. From the an-cient notions of it as the locus of potentiality, the principium individuationis, and the counterpart to form, to the modern notions of it as ideational content, the noematic correlate of noesis, the origin of consciousness according to emergent accounts, and in the so-called “New Materialism,” matter has been a central concern of foundational thought. But what happens when, not metaphysics or the question of the Being of beings, but ethics becomes “first philosophy”? What rôle does matter then play in the development of such an ethics, and of the philosophy or theory conditioned by such a beginning?
This conference welcomes papers addressing the issues of the material, the corporeal, in their relation to the ethical, and the political.

As has become customary in NALS over the years, however, we also welcome papers on any topic in Levinas studies that happens to be of interest to you. The official language of the conference will be English and so while we welcome papers by non-native speakers, we suggest that all papers be translated for delivery.

NOTE: Registration and payment of membership dues is required for all conference participants (note that there are professional and student rates). Banquet attendance and the reservation of on-campus lodging is optional.*

*To book off campus lodging at a special rate, click here.

Please contact Jacob Torbeck ( with any questions.


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