Month: February 2015

Kabbalah, Language, and Transcendental Mysteries

Photo courtesy of the USHMM

Photo courtesy of the USHMM

Steven Katz,
Alvin J. and Shirley Slater Chair of Jewish and Holocaust Studies, Boston University
Feb. 26, 7 p.m., Sussman Theater, Olmsted Center

The Jewish mystical tradition, like all mystical traditions, has had to deal with the issue of language and the communication of mystical experience. In responding to this basic issue, Jewish mystics did not emphasize ineffability. Instead, they answered the conceptual matters raised by the challenge of language by creating a theology that drew on the material in, and the interpretation of, the Hebrew Bible.

Dr. Katz serves on the Academic Committee of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, chairs the Holocaust Commission of the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, and serves as Academic Adviser to the 31 countries that make up the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. He has published numerous works on the Holocaust and Jewish philosophy as well as five seminal books on comparative mysticism all from Oxford University Press.

Listen to audio of Katz’s lecture:

The Sayings and Missayings of Samuel Beckett

OwensWEBCraig Owens, Associate Professor of English, Drake University
February 12, 7:00 p.m., Sussman Theater, Olmsted Center

The narrators of Samuel Beckett’s novels and the characters in his plays fill their worlds with words. In his final trilogy of novels, Nowhow On, these utterances become intensely self-reflective, so much so that they are about uttering itself, the signifier’s inability to bear transparently its signified content. Ineffability, here, emerges not as the failure of a particular kind of signified content, but as the failure of signifiers themselves ever to refer to an extra-symbolic signified in the first place.

Craig N. Owens teaches modern drama, playwriting, modern Irish and British literature, and discourse and language theory. He has directed and performed in many of Beckett’s plays.

Listen to audio of Owen’s lecture and a response from Gereon Kopf, Professor of Religion, Luther College