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The Human Experience of Disasters to be Explored at Phenomenology Symposium

If phenomenology explores the essences of human experience, what can be done when what is experienced is horrific, unsettling and cataclysmic?

This and related questions will be examined at Duquesne University's 33rd annual Simon Silverman Phenomenology Center Symposium, Experiencing Disaster, which will be held on Monday, March 30, and Tuesday, March 31, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Africa Room of the Duquesne Union.

The experience of disaster is one that can define human life-and for some, define it profoundly, said Dr. Jeffrey McCurry, director of the phenomenology center and event organizer. Through meditating on experiences such as genocide and rape, ecological destruction and colonial violence, the symposium will seek to explore the far edges and beyond of intelligible human experience-including how disasters impact religious understanding and beliefs.

"Phenomenology wants to articulate the nature of all dimensions and registers of human experience, and it seems important that we attend to the experience of disaster," McCurry explained. "By doing so, we might begin to explore ways to ethically and politically respond to traumatic events in a manner that helps prevent disasters when we can and provide hope in its aftermath when it has happened."
Featured presenters and talks will include:

  • Dr. Debra Bergoffen, the Bishop Hamilton Lecturer at American University and Professor Emerita at George Mason University, The Living Death of Statelessness
  • Dr. Jane Gordon, associate professor at the University of Connecticut, Of Divine Warning: Reading Disaster in the Modern Age
  • Dr. Kevin Hart, the Edwin B. Kyle Professor of Christian Studies at the University of Virginia, The Absolute Event of History: The Shoah and the Outside
  • Dr. David Loy, independent scholar and Zen Buddhism teacher, Best Disaster Ever.

Duquesne faculty serving as session moderators will be:

  • Dr. Will Adams, associate professor of psychology
  • Dr. Tom Eyers, assistant professor of philosophy
  • Dr. Kathleen Glenister Roberts, associate professor of communication and rhetorical studies
  • Dr. George Yancy, associate professor of philosophy. 

Although Experiencing Disaster is free and open to the public, registration is requested and can be completed by visiting www.duq.edu/phenomenology or by emailing phenomenology@duq.edu.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.