LVC’s Symposium on a Living Philosopher culminated last week with Catherine Malabou’s extended visit to campus. Malabou, who lives in Paris and works at the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy at Kingston University in London, came to LVC in between trips to Duke University and Villanova University. During her three days here she conducted study sessions with faculty and students, gave a public lecture entitled “What is a Psychic Event? Psychoanalysis and Neurobiology on Trauma,” and served as the official respondent for the Undergraduate Research Symposium held on her work.
The Research Symposium was the culmination of a yearlong seminar course. Five LVC students (Dylan Matusek, Ashley Ferrari, Halley Washburn, Devan Glenny and Marquis Bey) presented their original research on Malabou directly to her in an open, public forum. They were joined by Jordan Skinner from Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, MI.
The students were poised, knowledgeable, and confident, even as they sparred with a contemporary thinker of world significance. Malabou herself was warm, gracious, and exacting. She spoke affirmatively of the high level of scholarship the students produced. And perhaps what she found most impressive was how each of the students developed her work in new and distinctive ways–from explorations of how her philosophy provides a viable form of political resistance and the possibility for real change, and how it contributes to notions of freedom and individuality, to applications of her work in considerations of the phenomenon of bullying and the persistence of racial and gender discrimination.
All told, this was one of the most significant and exciting weeks for our department in recent memory. The students’ successes from this class–first at the North American Undergraduate Conference in Religion and Philosophy, and second with their direct engagement with Malabou herself–provides ample proof for us that this model of integrating undergraduate research into the humanities is a genuinely high impact learning experience. We are committed to building on this success and believe that it provides our graduates with an unparalleled education in philosophy and religion.