North American Levinas Society Conference 2017
Loyola University Chicago
Lakeside Campus
1032 W. Sheridan Rd.
Chicago, IL 60660

Conference Program (Final)

Day 1: Monday, July 24

1:00-4:00pm       Advisory Committee Meeting
Cuneo Hall 116

3:00-6:00pm       Registration
Piper Hall 1st Floor

5:00-6:00pm       Pre-Conference Gathering and Drinks
McCormick Lounge, Coffey Hall

6:00-6:30pm       Opening Remarks: Jacqueline Long, Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Loyola University Chicago; Mark Waymack, Chair, Department of Philosophy, Loyola University Chicago

6:30-7:15pm       “Humane Letters: The Story of Emmanuel Levinas’s Honorary Doctorate from Loyola in 1970, and How It Almost Didn’t Happen,” Hugh Miller, Loyola University Chicago

Dinner on Your Own

Day 2: Tuesday, July 25

8:30-3:00            Registration, Coffee, Pastries, Book Display, etc.
Piper Hall 1st Floor

Session 1:           9:00-10:30am

Panel (Mundelein Center 204) – Levinas and the Non-human

Moderator:  Jacob Torbeck

  • Christopher Cohoon (University of King’s College, Halifax): “Ecological Embodiment and Ethical Giving in Levinas”
  • Sean Driscoll (Boston College): “Do We Have a Duty to the Inorganic?”

Session 2:           (10:45am-12:15pm)

Panel (Mundelein Center 204) – Levinas and the Narratives of Modernity/Postmodernity

Moderator: Yirin Zhang

  • Richard Cohen (University at Buffalo): “Levinas and Spinoza: Science, Rationalism, Phenomenology, and Ethics”
  • Andrew Kelley (Bradley University): “Levinas, Matter, and the Organ-Obstacle”
  • Timothy Golden (Walla Walla University): “Reading Levinas with the Tradition: Materiality and the Ethical Relation”


Keynote 1 and Lunch: Adriaan Peperzak (Loyola University Chicago
McCormick Lounge, Coffey Hall

“How should we read the idea of the Infinite in Descartes and Levinas?”

Moderator:  Hugh Miller (Loyola University Chicago)


Session 3:        (2:45-4:15pm)

Panel (Mundelein Center 204) – Meaning and Materiality

Moderator:  Kyoungnam Park

  • Drew Dalton (Dominican University): “The Matter of Evil and the Evil of Matter in Levinas: Exposing and Exploring Levinas’s Manicheism”
  • Elliott Ratzman (Swarthmore College): “The Materialization of Virtue: Levinas and the Neo-Mussar Movement”
  • Andrew Osborne (UIC): “Is a Materially based Ethics Possible?”


Session 4:        (4:30-6:00pm)

Book Session (Mundelein Center 204) – Richard Cohen’s Out of Control: Confrontations Between Spinoza and Levinas

Panelists: Richard Cohen (University at Buffalo), James MacLachlan (Western Carolina University), Sandor Goodhart (Purdue University)

Dinner on your own

Day 3: Wednesday, July 26

8:30-3:00         Registration, Coffee, Pastries, Book Display, etc.

Piper Hall 1st Floor

Session 5:        (9:00-10:30am)

Panel (Mundelein Center 204) – Specific Bodies / The Specificity of the Body

Moderator:  María-Victoria Londoño-Becerra

  • Donald Wallenfang (Walsh University): “Maternity as Material Responsibility: Vulnerability’s Concomitance with le premier venu
  • Annette Rodriguez (University of New Mexico): “A Body Marked: Ethical Orientations Toward the Other”
  • Brian Bergen-Aurand (Bellevue College): “‘Look, It’s Exhausting’: The Comedy of Vulnerability”

Session 6:        (10:45am-12:15pm)

Panel (Mundelein Center 204) – Material Needs

Moderator: Thomas Crosby

  • Timothy Rothaar (Marquette University): “Levinas and the ‘Matter’ of Poverty”
  • Jolanta Saldukaitytė (Vilnius Gediminas Technical University): “The Imperative of Material Needs”



Keynote 2 and lunch:  Tom Sparrow (Slippery Rock University)
Crown Center Lobby, Crown Center for the Humanities

“Levinas and the Everyday: Outline for a Project”

Moderator: Hugh Miller


Session 7:        (2:45-4:15pm)

Panel (Mundelein Center 204) – Levinas and Language

Moderator:  Stefano Giacchetti

  • Kevin Houser (Case Western Reserve University): “Ethics and Objective Inflection”
  • James McLachlan (Western Carolina University): ““The Comfort of Things: Possession, Dwelling and the Desire to Be God in Levinas and Sartre”
  • Erik Garrett (Duquesne University): “A Levinasian Critique of ‘Fake News’: Responsibility and Signification”

Session 8:        (4:30-6:00pm)

Book Session (Mundelein Center 204) – Flora Bastiani (ed.), Bergson Jankélévitch Levinas

Panelists: Joëlle Hansel (SIREL), Yves Sobel (Université Paris 7 Diderot)


Society Banquet (6:45-9:15pm)
(Must be pre-registered)
Palm Court, Mundelein Center 4th Floor


Day 4: Thursday, July 27

8:00-3:00         Registration, Coffee, Pastries, Book Display, etc.

Piper Hall 1st Floor

Session 9:        (8:30-10:00am)

Panel (Mundelein Center 204) – Social Orders

Moderator:  Moreno Rocchi

  • David Seltzer (Drexel University): “Levinas, Mendelssohn, and the Modern State”
  • Andrea Walsh (Michigan State University): “Facing the Other Toward Critical Reason and Ethical Life”
  • Robin Podolsky (Cal State Long Beach): “Sumud Freedom Camp: Levinas’s Face-to-Face in Praxis”

Session 10:      (10:15-11:45am)

Panel (Mundelein Center 204) – The Social and the Political

Moderator:  Brian Bergen-Aurand

  • Justin Nordin (Loyola University Chicago): “Values and Ethical Responsibility in Totality and Infinity”
    • Sol Neely (University of Alaska Southeast): “A Matter of Morality: Ethical Sketches on the Limits of Compassion”
    • Stephen Wrenn (Independent Scholar): “Policing the Face: Towards a Levinasian Critique of the Police”


McCormick Lounge, Coffey Hall


Session 11:      (1:15-2:45pm)

Panel (Mundelein Center 204) – Impossibility/Transcendence

Moderator:  Andrew Ball

  • David Banach (St. Anselm College): “Otherwise than Infinite: Infinity and Materiality in Levinas and Meillassoux”
  • Yves Sobel (Université Paris 7 Diderot): “From Material to Ethical Impossibility”


Session 12:      (3:00-4:30pm)

Panel (Mundelein Center 204) – Psychology/Trauma

Moderator:  Monica Osborne

  • Sandor Goodhart (Purdue University): ““The Primacy of the Material Needs of the Other and the Responsibility of the Survivor”
  • Rachel Vogel (Harvard University): “Before the Face-to-Face: Bracha Ettinger’s Matrixial Ethics and the Embodied Encounter”

Session 13:      (4:45 – 6:15)

Panel (Mundelein Center 204) – Readings and Misreadings of Alterity

Moderator:  Hanne Jacobs

  • Chris King (University of South Florida): “Perceptual and Ethical Alterity in Levinas and Zahavi”
  • David Ventura (Royal Holloway, University of London): “On Deleuze’s Misreading of Levinas in ‘Michel Tournier and the World Without Others’”
  • Peter Giannopoulos (Penn State): ““The Other’s Trace in the Corporeal Self: Ipseity between Materialist Ontology and Ethics in Otherwise than Being”

Concluding Remarks (Mundelein Center 204) – 6:15-6:30

Business Meeting (Mundelein Center 204) – 6:30-7:30


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 ancient 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 role does matter then play in the development of such an ethics, and of the philosophy or theory conditioned by such a beginning?