A Sort of Bazaar or Pantechnicon: Newman's Challenge to the Modern University

Jul 23, 2020
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Stephen Fields, SJGeorgetown University


This master class is open to current graduate students and advanced University of Chicago undergraduate students. It will take place online on Zoom. Others interested in participating should contact us.

In 1854, John Henry Newman worried that the contemporary university was losing its ability to teach its students to see and recognize the truth. Instead of integrated learning, the university had instead become "a kind of bazaar, or pantechnicon," where various facts or theories were offered up without any attempt to make sense of the whole. This master class will investigate to what extent Newman's concerns have been realized and whether his proposed solutions can still be obtained.

This masterclass will be composed of three parts. In the first, Fr. Fields will sketch out the general argument of the Idea. In the second, he will offer some suggestions about how Newman's insights can diagnose the contemporary ills of the university. The third will be a wide-ranging discussion grounded in two short lectures Newman gave at his Catholic University of Ireland, "A Form of Infidelity of the Day" and "Christianity and Scientific Investigation"

Assigned Readings: (all from The Idea of a University

  • Preface; 
  • Discourse 5 - Knowledge Its Own End; 
  • "A Form of Infidelity of the Day," 
  • "Christianity and Scientific Investigation"

Stephen Fields, SJ is a Jesuit Priest and scholar with degrees from Oxford and Yale, he has written Being As Symbol: On the Origins and Development of Karl Rahner’s Metaphysics (2001) and Analogies of Transcendence: An Essay on Nature, Grace and Modernity (2016).  Recently he edited a volume of essays on the thought of Benedict XVI (Nova et Vetera, August 2017).  His scholarly articles treat such topics as Hans Urs von Balthasar, John Henry Newman, transcendental Thomism, and the Trinity, as well as Catholicism’s relation to liberalism, to ‘postmodernism,’ and to the contemporary university. He has been a long-time friend and collaborator of the Lumen Christi Institute.