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, S.J. is the Hackett Family Professor in Theology in Georgetown University, where he has taught since 1993. He holds the PhD from Yale in the philosophy of religion and the STL in fundamental theology from the Weston School of Theology (now the School of Theology and Ministry, Boston College). 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), and edited a collection of essays on the thought of Benedict XVI for a special Festschrift edition of Nova et Vetera (English edition) (2017). His articles appear in a range of international journals, both philosophical and theological. His undergraduate students elected him as the twelfth recipient of the Dorothy M. Brown Award for excellence in teaching. He now directs the Lumen Christi Institute’s annual summer seminar for graduate students on John Henry Newman.