The University of Chicago News Office
Oct. 31, 2006 Press Contact: Julia Morse
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The University of Chicago to honor and explore the lives of two historical Divinity School professors and scholars this weekend

What/Who: “Hermenutics in History: Mircea Eliade, Joachim Wach and the Science of Religions” will welcome religious scholars from around the world to discuss and debate the academic and historical accomplishments, lives and contributions of both scholars, also marking the intermediary year of last year’s 50th anniversary of Wach’s death and next year’s 100-year anniversary of Eliade’s birth. The conference will allow scholars and members of the community to reflect on the academics, politics and research of both Eliade and Wach, while exploring the connection between them. Carlo Ginzburg of the University of California at Los Angeles will give a keynote address in honor of Eliade; Hans Gerhard Kippenberg of the Universitat Bremen and the Max-Weber-Kolleg fur kultur-undsozialwissenschaftliche Studien at Universitat Erfurt will deliver a keynote address honoring Wach.
When: 9 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. Friday, November 3, and 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. Saturday, November 4

Where: The University of Chicago Divinity School, 1025 E. 58th Street, 3rd floor

Background: Wach was born in 1898 in Germany and died in 1955. He served on the faculty of the Divinity School from 1945 to 1955. His work focused mainly on the sociology of religion, often differentiating between religious history and philosophy. Eliade was born in Romania in 1907 and died in 1986. One of his greatest scholarly passions was the philosophy of religion. He served as a faculty member and as Director of the Department of History of Religions in the Divinity School for 30 years — from 1956 until his death in 1986. Although Eliade is remembered more famously, both Eliade and Wach are considered two of the greatest contributors to the history of religions and were the co-founders of the “Chicago School” of religious studies, which is considered by scholars today to be the defining place for the religious field during the second half of the 20th Century. The University has endowed faculty chairs in the Divinity School in honor of both Eliade and Wach. Additional conference information is available at:

Hermeneutics in History Conference Schedule:  

Friday, November 3

9:15 a.m. – 10 a.m. Welcome Address
Richard A. Rosengarten, Dean of the Divinity School
Wendy Doniger, Conference Convenor, Divinity School
Christian K. Wedemeyer, Conference Convenor, Divinity School

10 a.m. – 12 p.m. Panel #1: Eliade’s Influences I
Florin Turcanu, University of Bucharest
“Southeastern Europe and the Idea of the History of Religions for Eliade”
Bryan Rennie, Westminster College
“The Influence of Eastern Orthodox Christian Theology on Mircea Eliade’s Understanding of Religion”
Moderator: Wendy Doniger, University of Chicago

2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Panel #2: Eliade’s Influences II
Matei Calinescu, Indiana University
“Eliade and Ionescu in the Post-World War II Years: Questions of Identity”
Antoine Faivre, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Sciences Religieuses, Sorbonne
“The Extent and Limits of Eliade’s Interest in Western Esoteric Currents”
Moderator: Christian K. Wedemeyer, University of Chicago

5 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Keynote Address
“Eliade: A Reappraisal”
Carlo Ginzburg, University of California at Los Angeles

Saturday, November 4

9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Panel #3: Eliade and Literary Culture
Moshe Idel, University of Jerusalem
“Camouflaged Sacred in Mircea Eliade’s Self-Perception, Literature and Scholarship”
Daniel Dubuisson, CNRS/Universite Paris
“The Poetical and Rhetorical Structure of the Eliadean Text”
Jonathan Z. Smith, University of Chicago
Title to be announced
Moderator: Wendy Doniger, University of Chicago

2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Panel #4: Joachim Wach
Steven M. Wasserstrom, Reed College
“The Master Interpreter: Notes on the German Career of Joachim Wach (1922-1935)_
Gregory D. Alles, McDaniel College
“Joachim Wach’s Unfinished Project”
Moderator: Christian K. Wedemeyer, University of Chicago

5 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Keynote Address
“Joachim Wach and German Constructions of Religious History”
Hans Gerhard Kippenberg, Universitat Erfurt

6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. Reception
Divinity School Common Room, 1025 E. 58th Street, 1st Floor
Last modified at 03:30 PM CST on Tuesday, October 31, 2006.

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