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2020-21 Department Activities and Events

Chicago-Area Consortium in German Philosophy by Mark Alznauer

This year all of the Consortium events went online, like the rest of life.  We had three events, all book-related and all successes.  The first was a book panel on Kevin Thompson’s Hegel’s Theory of Normativity (Northwestern) with responses from Hao Liang (Northwestern) and from Jason Yonover (Johns Hopkins).  The second was a panel on Rachel Zuckert’s Herder’s Philosophical Naturalism (Cambridge) with responses from Naomi Fisher (Loyola), Melissa Merrit (UNSW), and Gregg Horowitz (Pratt Institute).  The last was a celebration of the republication of Thomas Mann’s Reflections of a Nonpolitical Man (nyrb) with Mark Lilla (Columbia), David Kretz (Chicago), Eskil Elling (Northwestern), and Miloš Broćić (Toronto).  We are hoping things will get back to normal next year.


Ethics Bowl by Harry Xie

The Northwestern Ethics Bowl Team has had a very successful year! The team met weekly to consider various ethical cases presented and develop a moral framework and analysis around them. They then competed in the Upper Midwest Regional Ethics Bowl Competition in November (virtually) and won second place, achieving a bid to the National Competition. At nationals, they had a wonderful time analyzing a new set of cases and competing against schools from across the country. It was great to be able to examine ethical issues and engage in meaningful discourse even during the pandemic.


WiPhi by Emma Eder

Women in Philosophy (WiPhi), a club for undergraduate women and non-binary individuals who are majoring or minoring in philosophy, or who enjoy free-time philosophizing, continued to flourish in the virtual setting.  Our meeting activities ranged from discussing philosophical issues amongst ourselves, to speaking with invited guests, to researching the present-day philosophical community and their work.  Discussions throughout the school year centered around topics like nationalism in the COVID-19 vaccine distribution, abortion, and consensual sex work.  At one meeting, we researched prominent female philosophers of our time and their specialty areas.  We welcomed our very own Prof. Kyla Ebels-Duggan and Prof. Megan Hyska to speak about their experiences as undergrads, grad students, and now professors in a male-dominated field.  We joined with NUPS to attend an event about the philosophy of labor, unionism, and workers’ rights, hosted by the NYU Philosophy Forum, New York University’s undergraduate philosophy group.  We look forward to more collaborations with other universities’ undergraduate groups in the future.

In the spring, we hosted the 9th Bussey Lecture.  Our speaker, the renowned Prof. Michele Moody-Adams, who is the Joseph Straus Professor of Political Philosophy and Legal Theory at Columbia University, delivered a talk titled “Public Space, Collective Memory, and the Claims of Justice.”  WiPhi had the great privilege to meet with Prof. Moody-Adams before the lecture.  We thank Prof. Moody-Adams for joining us as this year’s distinguished speaker!


The Frankfurt/Northwestern Dissertation Workshop by Eskil Elling

The workshop was held virtually this year, with participation from 14 graduate students and 10 faculty members from Northwestern and the Goethe University. The workshop, a long-standing tradition, aims to bring together graduate students whose work is informed by both French and German traditions of critical theory (broadly construed) in a variety of disciplines, allowing different contexts and versions of critical theory to enrich each other. Students from both institutions presented brief papers related to their ongoing dissertation work, followed by brief faculty comments. Topics ranged from Hegelian aesthetics, Marxist politics, and feminism to new materialism and film theory. The energy of the discussions, despite widespread Zoom fatigue, was an encouraging sign of the continued vitality of the international critical theory community.



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