EGSA Spring Conference, Martha Nussbaum at DePaul, and More

The upcoming EGSA Spring Conference now has its own home page– right here on Ex Libris! Check out EGSA Spring Conference 2012 for all of the most up-to-date information about how to apply, including the downloadable application form. Don’t miss a great chance to participate in a conference and share your work with your friends and classmates. The deadline to apply is March 19th, so get your papers, poetry, and prose ready. And check back soon for more updates, including this year’s very special keynote speaker.


The DePaul Humanities Center invites everyone to attend an upcoming lecture by prominent scholar and public intellectual Martha Nussbaum, who will discuss the crucial role of the Humanities in the contemporary university.

On Thursday, March 8th, 2012 (6-7:30 p.m.; Cortelyou Commons; there will also be a reception preceding at 5:30) Nussbaum will present: “Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities,” based on her 2010 book by the same name.

About Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities:

In this short and powerful book, celebrated philosopher Martha Nussbaum makes a passionate case for the importance of the liberal arts at all levels of education. Historically, the humanities have been central to education because they have rightly been seen as essential for creating competent democratic citizens. But recently, Nussbaum argues, thinking about the aims of education has gone disturbingly awry both in the United States and abroad. Anxiously focused on national economic growth, we increasingly treat education as though its primary goal were to teach students to be economically productive rather than to think critically and become knowledgeable and empathetic citizens. This shortsighted focus on profitable skills has eroded our ability to criticize authority, reduced our sympathy with the marginalized and different, and damaged our competence to deal with complex global problems. And the loss of these basic capacities jeopardizes the health of democracies and the hope of a decent world. In response to this dire situation, Nussbaum argues that we must resist efforts to reduce education to a tool of the gross national product. Rather, we must work to reconnect education to the humanities in order to give students the capacity to be true democratic citizens of their countries and the world.

Martha C. Nussbaum is the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics in the Philosophy Department, Law School, and Divinity School at the University of Chicago. She is the author of many books, including The Fragility of Goodness: Luck and Ethics in Greek Tragedy and Philosophy, Love’s Knowledge, Poetic Justice, Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education, and Creating Capabilities: The Human Development Approach.


All are welcome to attend a lecture at the University of Chicago on Wednesday, March 7th. The lecture, entitled “Sortes Vergilianæ” will be given by Randall McLeod, Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Toronto at 5:00 pm, Special Collections Research Center (in Regenstein Library, at the University of Chicago). From the event description:

 “Sortes biblicæ and sortes Vergilianæ involve opening at random the Bible or Vergil and letting one’s finger fall blindly on a passage, to read as an oracle.  In this lecture, McLeod will consult the 1501 Aldine edition of Vergil, the first book printed in italics.  By total accident, his finger will fall on the blank area at the bottom of the last page of the Eclogues!  Trying again, his random finger will fall on the blank bottom of the title page!!  Surrendering to destiny, McLeod will then voluntarily investigate all the blank areas of this edition, and an hour will scarcely suffice to analyze his startling findings: for all such white spaces in this Vergil, as in the whites of most Renaissance printed books, are not really blank.  This lecture will show you how to read and interpret texts hidden there.  They are the body language of the book.”

Reception to follow.


The University of Saint Thomas Graduate English Department is hosting its annual conference on FRIDAY, APRIL 27, 2012, 12:30-8 P.M and has issued a call for papers. While papers addressing any aspect of literature and culture will be considered, the graduate program particularly welcomes proposals for papers exploring the topic of “Writing as a Public Act.”

As an election year is before us, the idea of how writing is used in the public forum comes to the forefront, and with it a set of more particular questions of how the activity or the vocation of writing as a creative or artistic endeavor might be understood in this context.  For instance:

  • How can we distinguish between the “public” and the “political” dimensions of a literary text, or of the activity of attempting to bring such a text into being and to share it with readers?
  • How do writers influence political rhetoric?  How do they raise consciousness about central social concerns?  What is the role, historically and today, of protest poetry, postcolonial narratives, satires and cultural critiques?  Does writing polemically or advocating for social justice strip literary art of its artistry?
  • Many writers of the past and today see their role as advocating for certain viewpoints within their art; others think that art must somehow remain “universal” or depoliticized; how are we to understand / balance / adjudicate among the claims of the ethical, the rhetorical, and the aesthetic in our consideration of the literary or cultural text?

UST invites writers to submit papers that focus on these themes in their broad contexts.  What are the theoretical challenges of reading texts that deal with these concerns? Analysis of literary, cultural, cinematic texts that explore themes concerning “writing as a public act” in their political, psychological, social, economic, or philosophical contexts are encouraged.

E-mail two-page (maximum) proposals for individual presentations or for panels of three to Catherine Craft-Fairchild (

Final papers should take 15 minutes (20 minutes maximum) to present.



And finally, a friendly reminder that the Career Panel for English Students is TOMORROW, Tuesday, March 6, 5:30-6:30, Arts & Letters Hall #413. The panelists will focus on editing and publishing jobs.


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