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Providential Modernity Seminar with Eric Nelson

February 6, 2020 @ 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

Providential modernity

The next Providential Modernity seminar will meet at 1:00PM on Thursday, February 6, in the Ahmadieh Family Conference Room (West Duke Building, room 101). The seminar will feature Eric Nelson (Government, Harvard University).

A vegetarian lunch will be served; please RSVP to receive a copy of the paper (and request parking on East Campus, if needed) to Amber Díaz Pearson.

Eric Nelson is the Robert M. Beren Professor of Government at Harvard University. His research focuses on the history of political thought in early-modern Europe and America, and on the implications of that history for debates in contemporary political theory. Particular interests include the history of republican political theory, the relationship between the history of political thought and the history of scholarship, theories of property, and the phenomenon of secularization. Nelson is the author, most recently, of The Theology of Liberalism: Political Philosophy and the Justice of God (Harvard/Belknap, 2019). His other books include The Royalist Revolution: Monarchy and the American Founding (Harvard/Belknap, 2014), which received the Society of the Cincinnati History Prize and was named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title of 2015, as well as a Choice “Top 25 Books for 2015” selection; The Hebrew Republic: Jewish Sources and the Transformation of European Political Thought (Harvard/Belknap, 2010), which received the Erwin Stein Prize and the Laura Shannon Prize in Contemporary European Studies and was named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title of 2010; and The Greek Tradition in Republican Thought (Cambridge University Press, 2004).

The Providential Modernity seminar brings together faculty and graduate students from several area universities on a monthly basis to discuss work in the areas of history, political theology, and comparative sociology from Antiquity to the present. A key goal of the seminar is to place scholars of religion into conversation with one another and address scholarly challenges emerging from the post-secular age. “Providential modernity” encompasses a variety of social and political hopes, as well as anxieties, about the promise of history, sometimes expressed in millenarianism and apocalypticism, at other times in peaceful theodicies. In modern times, secular surrogates for providentialism found expression in revolution, social change, and the transformation of knowledge — ideas that have been conceptualized from Hegel to Fukuyama in discussions of the End of History. Many put their “faith” in “providential modernity,” while others, in despair, denied that history had any meaning at all. At the core of our deliberations will be an effort to deepen our grasp of the ways in which religions, Western and Eastern, both converge and differ in their understanding of providentialism, and how scholars may respond to the powerful working of religion in the postmodern age.


February 6, 2020
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
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The Ahmadieh Family Conference Room, West Duke, Room 101
1364 Campus Drive
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