Whoever still associates the Humanities with the moat of boredom around the proverbial ivory tower might want to reconsider their stance. They’ll give you a degree in anything these days, from the sociology of the twinkie to mediated empowerment in the oeuvre of Rihanna.
Without, however, catering quite so blatantly to the trendy and the low brow, an international conference under the aegis of The Hebrew University’s Department of English is set out to not bore.
The conference, entitled The Novel and Theories of Love, will be held June 18-20. The participants come from Israel, the US, the UK, Canada, Belgium, and France. The arrangement of the papers is chronological, intended to illuminate the ways in which the novel has been serving as a laboratory for ideas about love, competing with philosophy and lyrical poetry.
Love, according to the conference’s organizer Prof. Leona Toker, is the most insistently recurrent concern of the novel in its diverse forms. Novels frequently refract and critique existing ideas of love, such as Socratic love, pastoral love, courtly love, love that dare or dare not speak its name, love as a destructive, subversive, constructive, or redemptive force, to name a few.
The conference is inspired by the work of the Hebrew University scholar H. M. Daleski (1926-2010), whose writing has explored the relationship between different theories of love and the potentialities of fictional narratives.