[Skip to Content]

Paul Ricœur and Feminist Hermeneutics after Pamela Sue Anderson

Few scholars have done more to articulate Ricœur’s significance for the study of religion, and none has done more to move his thought in the direction of feminist philosophy of religion than Pamela Sue Anderson (1955-2017). Anderson’s untimely death at 62 has deprived us of her continuing insights, but her influence on Ricœur studies, feminist hermeneutics, and the philosophy of religion is very much alive. The Ricœur Unit seeks proposals exploring Anderson’s influence on Ricœur studies, feminist hermeneutics, ethics, and philosophy of religion. Possible topics include:

• The importance of philosophy for feminist theory and the importance of feminist perspectives in philosophy
• A feminist philosophy of religion
• Concepts of selfhood and identity
• Embodiment
• Vulnerability
• Love, hospitality, and desire
• Epistemic locatedness
• Memory and justice
• Rationality and myth

The Style of the Public Square
Political discourse today has become sharply divisive; and divisive precisely around fault lines defined by religious and secular visions and practices - hypertheism and overhumanization. Scholars in Religion and Humanism have already diagnosed how the problem of “evacuating the center” afflicts current political debate and calls for a third way. Paul Ricoeur, whose work lies at the intersection of religion and humanism, provides a way to understand how to frame the conversational space between these opposing perspectives—even in an increasingly polemicized environment.

This Ricoeur Unit session will focus on the style of political language as a substantive political question. Historically, the study of rhetoric and style has been central to humanism as an intellectual movement. Moreover, Ricoeur studied ideology and utopia as genres of political discourse, wrote an essay on "The Fragility of Political Language," and modeled difficult dialogue among divergent viewpoints in his own writings. The session will question how Ricoeur’s approach to language and interpretation can provide tools to counter the reductive thinking that riddles the public sphere.
For this session, we seek proposals that examine contemporary US politics in terms of the style, genre and rhetoric of political language. We invite papers that:

1: Address how Ricoeur’s style, which put rival points of view into unexpectedly fruitful conversation, enhance public political debates
2: address how Ricoeur provides a model for navigating a public square where religion and humanism can meet as partners in democratic dialogue.
3: Analyze how political style embodies particular ideological or policy stances, achieves or impedes political goals, and distorts or enables political dialogue.
4: Addresses the normative question of how religious discourse can contribute to renewing democratic dialogue rather than impeding it.

Mission Statement:

The purpose of this Unit is to promote the work of Paul Ricoeur within the broad fields of theology, religious studies, and the study of sacred texts. We believe that Paul Ricoeur, as a dialogue partner, has continued relevance to the manifold disciplines that constitute the AAR. Yet more than a Unit dedicated to the study of a particular scholar’s work, this Unit seeks to build up and creatively utilize Ricoeur’s work in a way that enriches a wide range of theological and religious subdisciplines.

Method of Submission:




W. David Hall, wdavid.hall@centre.edu

Glenn Whitehouse, gwhiteho@fgcu.edu


Steering Committee:

Stephanie N. Arel, snarel@bu.edu

Verna Marina Ehret, vehret@mercyhurst.edu

Hille Haker, hhaker@luc.edu

Howard Pickett, Picketthy@wlu.edu


Session Allotment: Tier 1 – Two 90-minute sessions

Next Review: 2021