THE ASSOCIATION FOR CORE TEXTS AND COURSES (ACTC) SIXTEENTH ANNUAL CONFERENCE
THEME: Engaging Worlds: Core Texts and Cultural Contexts
Seton Hall University
and Co-sponsored by
Centenary College of New Jersey, Columbia University, The College of New Jersey,
and The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey
Thursday, April 15 - Sunday, April 18, 2010
The Heldrich Hotel
New Brunswick, NJ
Plenary Speakers Thursday through Saturday:
Cheung Chan Fai, Director of General Education
and Professor of Philosophy, Chinese University of Hong Kong;
Jean and Robert Hollander, Poet and Professor Emeritus, Princeton University;
Lynn Margulis, Distinguished Professor, Geosciences, University of Massachusetts Amherst, and
Dorian Sagan, Science Writer;
David Tracy, Professor Emeritus of Catholic Studies
and Professor of Theology and the Philosophy of Religions, University of Chicago;
Richard Kamber, ACTC President and Professor of Philosophy, College of New Jersey.
Sunday, April 18: Business meeting.
HOTEL RESERVATIONS: See below.
ATTENDEE PROPOSAL SUBMISSIONS:
All proposals -- paper or panel -- should include names, institutional affiliations,
addresses, email and phone contact numbers of presenter(s). All proposals should
include paper title(s) and a one paragraph abstract. In addition, PANEL PROPOSALS
should organize a panel of specific presenters with a title for the panel. No more
than two panel members from the same institution may be present on one panel, but
panel proposals with only two presenters are welcome. ACTC will form panels out of
individual submissions or complete panel submissions.
DEADLINE FOR PROPOSALS IS DECEMBER 31, 2009.
A volunteer faculty member from one of the sponsoring institutions will be contacting
you between October 15th and December 1-10th
to remind you about the conference and to offer help in advancing a proposal to us. All
potential conferees are welcome to contact the Executive Director of ACTC, J. Scott Lee,
with questions about panels and proposals:
ACTC papers are short ("essay-seminar style," 5 pages, double-spaced), treat one core text
for ¾-1 page, and develop the conference theme.
(See "Sample Papers".)
The usual time allotted in panels to each paper is 12-15 minutes. A mark of ACTC conference
panels is real, liberal arts discussions. Thus, papers tend to range over theoretical
considerations, particular interpretations, and classroom or programmatic practices -
often involving all three areas. Panel Proposals should bear these characteristics in
mind. Scholarly papers (10 pages) may be submitted for publication in our selected proceedings,
but only the short papers may be read at the conference. For publication criteria,
While the submission of a complete paper is not required for acceptance on a panel,
attendees whose paper proposals are accepted are
expected to come to the conference with the completed paper. All conferees
are invited to submit these papers to ACTC for publication in our selected,
peer-reviewed proceedings. More than 200 openings will be available for panel
presentations and proceedings submissions.
Engaging Worlds: Core Texts and Cultural Contexts
This year's conference theme expresses a hope by the Sponsoring and Co-sponsoring institutions, and ACTC,
that the attendees of the conference will engage in as wide a conversation based in core texts as did the
committee which formulated the theme. That discussion recognized the plurality of interpretations and
statements by which core texts may engage worlds or cultural contexts.
The ways by which engagement is accomplished appear to be many, not one. Aristotle's Poetics remarks
that "what convinces is the possible" and, if so, the implication of not only tragedy and comedy, but
history, philosophy, even fine arts, religion, and science, is that their works provide us "worlds" and
"cultural contexts" for their characters, actions, and specific generic functions to inhabit. Indeed,
who could deny the fearful darkness through which Sophocles' characters navigate their way, or the silly
destructiveness of politics in the lives of Aristophanes' characters? Who can contemplate
Botticelli's The Adoration of the Magi and not wonder at the world created by the mixture of
Christian, Classical, and early Renaissance cultures in the posture and staging of Cosimo
kneeling before the Virgin? Similarly, Plato's Republic with its cave dwellers and guardians
constitutes a world very different than the one constructed by Bacon's Novum Organum or
Swift's Gulliver's Travels. Those who read such works may come to develop artistic or
scientific sensibilities, and - perhaps -- come, through future artistic or scientific
production of their own, to imagine the kind of worlds and passions we may inhabit, now or in the
future. What, then, are the worlds and cultural contexts of the activities, actors and agents
constituted in core texts?
On the other hand, Aristotle in the last chapters of the Poetics constructs the basis for a
multi-disciplinary conversation within, at least, Greek culture about works of art. In the
same treatise, then, the relations of culture and work are reversed, and the work is subject
to wide-ranging criticism. Something like this conversation begins to happen when diverse
faculty gather to discuss the use of works in their courses and programs. What, then, are the
worlds and cultural contexts of the modern academy and our programs as they approach world
classics and are constituted by the discussion of their use?
One strain of that conversation can be seen in the adumbrations in the works of Cicero of our
modern concerns with leadership. "I hold that eloquence is dependent upon the trained skill of
highly educated men, while [others] consider that it must be separated from the refinements of
learning made to depend on a sort of natural talent and practice." Here the educational focus
is on shaping students through acquiring a culture of learning largely through the selected
cultivation of arts and the use of works of language, in order that the student may participate
most fully in her or his culture. What is a world of culture and education, when constituted by
the liberal arts of language and culture in application to core texts?
Considerations of leadership, in a democracy, naturally lead to considerations of citizenship. And,
in the Enlightenment- American democratic culture of Jefferson, de Tocqueville, Emerson, Du Bois,
or Henry Adams it becomes patently clear how vexed the relationship between books and culture may
become over democratic questions of cultural progress and participation. Looking over this American
democratic development, Americans seem urged to abandon the literate educational tradition which got
them to the point of being able to decide what should be done or built. What is the relationship
between core texts and citizens in a democracy?
Perhaps impelled by a love of books and culture and an uneasy satisfaction with our own cultural
heritage whatever it may be -- we examine other books with worlds of other cultures in them. Despairing
of a theological line of argument within Western churches which has made God so absolute as to make
humans un-free, David Tracy has turned to Buddhism to help reinvigorate and re-orient the discussion
of what "ultimate reality" may be. Amartya Sen, in The Argumentative Indian, argues that, "the Greek
and Roman heritage on public discussion is, of course, rightly celebrated, but the importance attached
to public discussion has a remarkable history in India," but William de Bary, scholar of Asia, has
questioned the institutionalization of public discourse in that civilization's traditions, "public
reasoning, yes, and still a value in the tradition, but not necessarily democratic." In short, as
we examine work and conversation of various cultures, we seem drawn to the cultural issues of
institutions and conversation - not the least being the nature and structure of our own educational
fora - and particularly the content and function of core text programs. What can classic works -
ancient or modern -- contribute to the formation of institutions and vice-versa?
In the Confucian tradition, there is deep consideration of the relations between thought, cultural
forms, action and text: "The Master said, 'Learning without due reflection leads to perplexity;
reflection without learning leads to perilous circumstances'." But reflection was also turned to
the lived "spiritual" world of the dao - a way appreciated and projected through art and life:
"Poor but enjoying the way (dao); rich but loving ritual propriety (li)… Zigong, it is only with
the likes of you then that I can discuss the Songs!" This raises the question of whether only
certain initiates, disciples or experts can engage in such discussions, and whether books not only
engage us in our own present culture, but those of another order altogether - a question that
Augustine's City of God and Christine de Pisan's City of Ladies seem to explore at length.
These Confucian and Christian works which speculate on the state and future of cultures have suggestive
parallels in today's modern discourses, about who is eligible and what should count in discussions,
even about books and science. For example, Lynn Margulis' and Dorion Sagan's works are neither
simply works for "popular" consumption, nor, while solidly scientific and modern, are they works
atrophied by inattention to histories of ideas. Thus, these authors seem to use the whole core
text tradition of ancient to modern works to engage scientific colleagues in (deconstructive) public
debate about such issues as the extent that symbiogenesis or the existence of Gaia has shaped
the biology of the world and humans, and what it is to be alive - or dead.
Even the methods of such writers as Margulis open up the question of core texts and a cultural context,
for there are questions about the appropriate worlds to create through combining a study of core texts -
from Newton, to Newman, to Nietzsche - with pedagogies and practices of the classroom. Each of these
disciplines and their texts - science or mathematics, education or religion, philosophy or criticism -
might seem to demand specific classroom practices, yet all these authors and the works found in this
call for papers have been treated through specialized disciplinary or liberal-arted, interdisciplinary
inquiry. What happens to our students when we read these works with different paideia's, different
cultures of education?
Thus, the cross-cultural, cross-disciplinary conversations that readers have been engaged in for
centuries only become heightened and, perhaps, more necessary in the world classics of the 20th
Century. Freud's Civilization and Its Discontents seems one such work. Certainly concerned with
selections and consequences within world classics traditions and multi-cultural contexts are King
and Nussbaum. Such works, in turn, led to an important issue the committee considered -- the notion
of Global Culture(s) and Global Civilization(s). Not surprisingly, there were varying commitments
to these ideas. Some programs will orient their courses toward situating and maintaining the local
or institutional culture in a "global" context. Others may orient toward specific civilizations
-- Western or Eastern -- or specific traditions -- religious, political, artistic, textual or
ideational. However, all are likely to find the question of global context to be worthy of
consideration, precisely because the multi-cultural conversation -- foreshadowed in Aeschylus'
encounter of cultures between the Eumenides and Athens -- is now upon us for the far future.
What do we learn of texts, cultures, and the world's dynamics when we read so widely and deeply? What
books, what arts, what associations and institutions, what sciences, what religions, what cultures,
what educations, what citizens, what scholars are we preparing for the future through an education
in core texts that engages our worlds?
CONFERENCE FEES AND MEMBERSHIP
Registration includes price of six meals
(Thursday night reception and dinner, three breakfasts
and two lunches) regardless of days of attendance, plus admission to all activities, & subvention
for published proceedings of the conference.
All individuals attending ACTC are encouraged to become members.
However, all individuals attending ACTC for the second time must become members,
and all individuals presenting papers must become members.
Institutional membership does not cover individual membership.
||CAD price announced after agenda is set
||(if fee paid by personal check, discounted to $25.00)
||Thursday night guests:
Payment forms will be sent to you in early February after the agenda is set.
ACTC does not accept credit cards because the cost of using them would have to be passed on
to conference attendees. ACTC cannot and will not pro-rate fees.
CONFERENCE REGISTRATIONS AND/OR PAYMENTS POSTMARKED AFTER APRIL 1, 2010 WILL
BE SUBJECT TO A LATE REGISTRATION FEE OF $50.00.
Parties interested in book displays or displays for programs or projects should contact
the ACTC office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Heldrich Hotel, 10 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ: Single or Double Rate: $ 95.00/night.
ALL HOTEL RESERVATIONS WILL BE MADE THROUGH THE HELDRICH.866-609-4700.
Go to www.TheHeldrich.com
and select the BOOK NOW link. Select Group Reservation,
located along the top of the screen. Input your ACTC's attendee code, 77729,
and then click the Attendee Login Button. This will bring you to your group specific page,
listing some general information about your group meeting and the hotel.
Input your Arrival and Departure Dates and the number of guests and then click Continue.
Select your preferred Bed Type, fill in the appropriate Information Fields, and then click Submit.
For Call-In Reservations:
Call toll free: 866 609 4700. Simply provide the Group Name, Dates, and/or the Group's Attendee
Code/Res ID, and the Reservation Agent will be able to assist you.
Trouble? The Hotel's main number is 732-729-4670.
Rooms in the "block" at above rate will be held until WEDNESDAY, MARCH 31, 2010.
After March 31, rooms and rates are subject to availability.
NB: we have a room block in line with historical records of attendance at ACTC.
Once the room block is filled, regardless of dates, rates go up.
AIRPORT AND GROUND TRANSPORTATION
The most convenient airport is Newark International, from where a New Jersey Transit train
goes directly from to the New Brunswick train station. Use
"train schedules" and "Newark Airport" as your "origin" if coming from Newark International.
Shuttles between airports: www.citidex.com.
Also, public transportation will take riders from the other NYC airports to Penn Station in NYC,
where a transfer to an NJ transit train can be made. A five-(short)-block, downtown walk from
the New Brunswick train station will take you to the hotel.
On the hotel's website, www.TheHeldrich.com,
go to "Location" to see its easy accessibility from Interstate 95 and the network of area Interstates: 80, 78, and 287. Parking is available Thursday night at cost, but drivers may switch to a nearby municipal lot for free on the weekend. New York City is easily accessible by train.
Questions? Write or call:
ACTC Liberal Arts Institute at
Saint Mary's College of California
1928 Saint Mary's Road
Moraga, CA 94556
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