Monday, November 7, 2011

Edith Stein Project: Call for Papers

Call for Papers:
The Edith Stein Project

Encountering Vulnerability: Courage, Hope, and Trust in the 21st Century

Seventh Annual Conference

February 10-11th, 2012

The Identity Project of Notre Dame is proud to present the theme for its seventh annual conference, "Encountering Vulnerability: Courage, Hope and Trust in the 21st Century."

This year we hope to explore what it means to be “vulnerable,” for the idea of vulnerability often carries with it a negative connotation: abuse, instability, heartache. As such, we consider vulnerability as something to eradicate from our lives. Yet, because of our finite human nature, we will necessarily be limited in our abilities and strengths. As Blessed John Paul II said, "No amount of economic, scientific or social progress can eradicate our vulnerability to sin and to death." This gives us good reason to guard ourselves carefully in situations where we could be harmed; however, in trying to protect ourselves, we often come to fear our vulnerability.

But perhaps there is another side to vulnerability: in addition to examining ways in which it may be misused, we must also consider its value. If vulnerability is intrinsic to us as human beings, is there a proper place for it in our identity and our relationships?

Recognizing vulnerability’s positive role, we look to Christ as a model, “For precisely by lowering himself to the point of defenseless vulnerability of love, he shows what his true greatness is indeed” (Blessed John Paul II).  We consider our weakness and our dependence upon God and others to be a strength, because as St. Paul wrote, "It is when I am weak that I am strong."

Moreover, it is "not good for man to be alone," so we must cultivate an ability to share our lives and our hearts with each other.  With this openness comes the risk of being rejected or spurned, yet C.S. Lewis reminds us of the necessity of this risk because "to love at all is to be vulnerable." In this sense, vulnerability breaks down barriers between persons and allows for genuine communication and intimacy; it asks that "the thoughts of our hearts may be laid bare" (Blessed John Paul II).

Through the presentations and panels of the conference, we hope to accomplish two objectives:

(1) To offer hope and healing to those who have been harmed by the exploitation of their vulnerability
(2) To examine the positive role of vulnerability, particularly within relationships.

 As always, we look to St. Edith Stein (Teresa Benedicta) for inspiration. A philosopher and convert who was martyred in Auschwitz in 1942, Edith Stein wrote on questions of human dependency and suffering, particularly pertaining to women.

We hope to provide a balance of academic presentations from various disciplines and personal stories relating to the theme of vulnerability and how it relates to our dignity as human persons. We welcome the submission of abstracts drawing on a wide range of perspectives and academic specialties. Special consideration will be given to submissions of ideas for panel discussions that would bring together several speakers to discuss a focused theme.

Possible topics may include but are not limited to:

·         The writings of Edith Stein
·         Like a Child: Innocence and its relationship to vulnerability
·         The Vulnerability of God in the Incarnation and Crucifixion
·         Vulnerability in a world of Talk Shows and Reality TV
·         The Effects of Eating Disorders
·         Vulnerability and the Greek loves
·         Vulnerability and the Blessed Virgin Mary
·         The Book of Ruth and/or Book of Judith
·         John Paul II’s Muleris Dignitatem
·         Disability Studies and Vulnerability
·         The Effects of the "Hook-Up" Culture
·         The role of openness and/or trust in friendships
·         Vulnerability and Femininity/Masculinity
·         The Vulnerability of a Faithful Witness to the Faith
·         Women in the Workplace
·         John Paul II’s Evangelium Vitae
·         Vulnerability as a binding force within communities
·         Advertising and the Distortion of Beauty
·         Vulnerability and Sexuality
·         Healthy Vulnerability in Relationships: Developing Trust and/or Forgiveness
·         Technology as a means to avoid vulnerability and openness
·         Vulnerability and the spiritual life

One-page abstracts for individual papers should include name, title, affiliation (academic or otherwise), address, and e-mail address. Presentations should be approximately 30 - 45 minutes in length, or, for panel discussions, one hour total.

The deadline for submissions is November 15th, 2011.  Notification of acceptance will be mailed by January 1st, 2012. Abstracts should be emailed to

More information on the Edith Stein Project can be found on our web site:

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