"Making Sacrifices": Visions of Sacrifice in American and European Cultures

full name / name of organization: 
Salzburg Institute of Gordon College

As Italian premier Mario Monti recently did, politicians are increasingly calling on citizens to make sacrifices for the future of their countries. Such public invocations of sacrifice place politicians and their constituents in a state of tension at least partly because of the difficult and often contradictory connotations of sacrifice. Sacrifice, a concept of religious provenance deeply embedded in contemporary culture, can mean to offer for destruction and to make amends, to hurt and to heal, make whole, or sacred. Such oppositions at the heart of sacrifice make it a dangerous and much-fraught concept, as well as a fruitful and powerful one in numerous spheres of culture.

This year's symposium of the Salzburg Institute of Gordon College is dedicated to investigating notions of sacrifice as they appear at important junctures of contemporary culture and its past. The following questions, among others, will be considered: In what ways does sacrifice form a key theme in European and/or American literature, art, and thought? How have concepts of sacrifice taken shape in those historical and contemporary situations where sacrifice has become a particularly important, urgent, or contested matter? How have the meanings of sacrifice shifted (and how may they yet shift) as a result of their circulating between different spheres of activity? (For example, what meaning is gained, lost, or otherwise changed when a religious notion of sacrifice is transposed into philosophical conceptuality, a political principle, or a key idea of fiscal reform? As for the inverse, what do avowedly religious understandings of sacrifice owe to ancient and modern legal, political, and philosophical invocations of sacrifice?) Finally, how has sacrifice been envisioned within various Christian, Jewish, and Muslim traditions and how might the notions of sacrifice belonging to these traditions be profitably compared?

The interdisciplinary symposium appeals to scholars of various disciplines (the humanities, sociology, philosophy, literature, history, political science, religious studies, Jewish studies, and theology among others).

Date of the symposium: November 3, 2012.
Location: Gordon College, Wenham, MA. Gordon College is located just 25 miles north of Boston on Boston's historic North Shore.

Please send abstracts for papers and a brief bio by October 1, 2012 to salzburg.symposium@gordon.edu . Presentations should not exceed 20 minutes in length. The organizers cannot offer contributors compensation for conference- or travel expenses. Select contributions will be considered for publication in an edited collection.