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Talk: The Holistic Ideal of the Humanities and Religious Revelation: Linguistic-Cultural Diaspora or a New Universality?
Date: 7 November 2011 

The School of Modern Languages and Cultures cordially invites you to the following talk:

The Holistic Ideal of the Humanities and Religious Revelation: Linguistic-Cultural Diaspora or a New Universality?

Prof. William Franke, Vanderbilt University

Date: 7 November 2011
Time: 10:30 am
Venue: Council Chamber, Room 809, Meng Wah Complex, HKU

This paper proposes an epistemology of the humanities which places knowledge into a framework of 'revelation' in both a literary and a theological sense. Classics of literature such as the Bible, Homer, Virgil, Augustine, and Dante present whole visions of human life and the cosmos in relation to a transcendent and divine order. Such totalizing aesthetic visions have been severely censured in recent criticism, particularly in the wake of Walter Benjamin, yet a universal vision, open without restriction to others and even to a transcendent Other, can also be discerned in principle in these founding texts of Western civilization. This vision connects with a new sense of universality based on 'revelation' of singularity that is not rationally masterable or categorically definable, in a critical perspective deriving from Franz Rosenzweig and currently being pursued by the likes of Eric Santner, Alain Badiou, and Slavoj Zizek. This perspective provides a basis for extending general humanities education from founding texts of Western civilization into global dialogue with their counterparts in other, especially Eastern cultures.

Biographical Note
William Franke is professor of Comparative Literature and Religious Studies at Vanderbilt University. He is a research fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung and has been Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Intercultural Theology at the University of Salzburg. His books include Dante’s Interpretive Journey (1996); On What Cannot Be Said: Apophatic Discourses in Philosophy, Religion, Literature and the Arts (2007); Poetry and Apocalypse: Theological Disclosures of Poetic Language (2009). Soon to appear are his A Philosophy of the Unsayable (forthcoming in 2012) and Dante and the Sense of Transgression: 'The Trespass of the Sign.'


Please feel free to contact Ms Christy Ho at  for any enquiries.

All are welcome.

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