sealPurdue News

May 17, 2002

International conference on violence, religion coming to Purdue

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – With religious tensions and violence escalating in the Middle East, topics to be explored during an international conference coming to Purdue University will be especially pertinent.

René Girard

More than 100 scholars and religious thinkers from Europe, Great Britain and the United States will gather at Purdue June 5-8 for the annual Colloquium on Violence and Religion. The main topic of the conference is "Judaism, Christianity and the Ancient World: Mimesis, Sacrifice and Scripture." Conference attendees will discuss moments in their common history when Jews and Christians perceived themselves to be part of the same religious universe.

The conference's keynote address will be delivered by René Girard, a literary critic, cultural anthropologist and religious thinker, at 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 5, in Fowler Hall. The conference will focus on Girard's research on desire, violence, sacrifice and religion. Other featured speakers include internationally renowned religious studies scholars Michael Fishbane, Louis Feldman, Bruce Chilton, Gérard Rossé and Alan Segal.

Sandor Goodhart, an English professor and director of Jewish Studies at Purdue, has served as the conference co-organizer along with Thomas Ryba, a theologian-in-residence at the St. Thomas Aquinas Center, and Ann Astell, a professor of English. Goodhart says he is pleased that five of the world's most prominent scholars of ancient Judaism and Christianity will gather at Purdue to discuss Girard's work.

"The richness of Girard's ideas about sacrifice and violence, particularly as they apply to Judaism and Christianity, cannot be overestimated," Goodhart says. "They offer a way of talking about these complicated matters that offers at once clarity and range. Girard's thinking may be among the most important thinking of our time – comparable to that of Freud or Martin Buber."

The Colloquium on Violence and Religion conference is sponsored by Astell, the Purdue Jewish Studies Program, the St. Thomas Aquinas Center, the Dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Robert Ringel, a professor of audiology and speech sciences and former vice president for academic affairs.

For a schedule and further information, visit the conference Web site.

CONTACT: Sandor Goodhart, (765) 494-3733,; Alice Wenger, COV&R 2002 coordinator, (765) 494-7965,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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