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    Steel Center Events

  • To the Hendrix Community,

    Upcoming Events


    Steel Center Lecture featuring Steel Center Visiting Scholar, Nathan Duford, Assistant Professor of Government at Smith College, on Domination and Identity Politics. Open to the public and the Hendrix community. 

    This discussion will present a variety of argumentative tactics used by right-wing political organizations and social movements that generate both negative and positive depictions of identity politics. In the negative terms, these depictions rely on the generation of false equivalencies between identities, or the depiction of left-wing identity politics as sophisticated ploys for authority and control. I read billboards, editorials, posts (formerly known as tweets), flyers, and protest signs to demonstrate how these specific tactics function to undermine left-wing identity politics. The paper will look at four forms of positive right-wing identity politics analyzed through protest signs, flyers, memes, book covers, forum posts, vehicle signage, and posts (formerly known as tweets).  

    Rather than making academic arguments, these media are intended to mobilize grassroots support for a variety of social movements or solidarity groups which aim at domination. I pull from white power/white pride, straight/cis pride, pro-patriarchy/men’s rights, and gender critical examples in order to demonstrate the various tactics deployed by right-wing identitarian movements. I argue that these tactics are intended to generate paranoia, a feeling of powerlessness, and a sense of righteous indignation in everyday political actors based on their identitarian identifications. Combined, these three psychopolitical states are operative in more mainstream forms of right-wing political action with grassroots support, such as anti-CRT legislation as well as recently revived forms of homo/trans moral panics leading to highly restrictive forms of legislation. 

    Thursday, April 25th, 7pm, in the Hundley Shell Theatre/Miller 100 (reception to follow)

    Duford Lecture

    Steel Center Bible Study led by Dr. Williamson and Barringer
    April 9th - Easter Without Jesus (Mark 16:1-8)

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    Steel Center Bible Study led by Dr. Williamson and Barringer
    April 2nd - Easter without Jesus (Mark 16:1-8)

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    Steel Center Bible Study led by Dr. Williamson and Barringer
    March 26th - Parodying the Royal Processional (Mark 11:1-11)
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    Steel Center Bible Study led by Dr. Williamson and Barringer
    March 12th - A Political Reading of the Gospel of Mark

    Bible Study

    Brunch with Dr. Kenneth T. Andrews - Visiting Phi Beta Kappa Scholar

    Professor Andrews, Tileston Professor of Arts and Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, studies the influence of protest and social movements on politics, media, and social change, having written extensively on the dynamics and legacy of the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. South. Andrews has studied the leadership, participation, and influence of environmental groups and the local state politics of prohibition as well. Currently, he is studying protest and activism in the period following the 2016 election. Andrew's research has been supported by multiple grants from the National Science Foundation, and he has held visiting fellowships at the Russell Sage Foundation, University of Oxford, and Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin feur Sozialforschung. 

    Monday, March 11th, 10:10 - 11:30 a.m. in Ellis Hall

    PBK lunch

    Steel Center Bible Study led by Dr. Williamson and Barringer
    March 5th - A Political Reading of the Gospel of Mark

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    Live Musical Performance, "Untight", and Artist Talk featuring Sam King Exhibit "Useful Friction"

    Untight is an improvisation-driven sound art project created and performed by Arkansas-based artist and musician Sam King. King combines a microtonal electric guitar with a digital effects array to create compelling, immersive listening experiences, accompanied in live settings by projections or other visual elements.

    Thursday, February 22nd from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. in Ellis Hall

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    Steel Center Bible Study led by Dr. Williamson and Barringer
    February 20th- Gerasene Demoniac

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    Own Your Power, Rustin Film Screening

    A gay, black, pacifist, with former communist ties before Stonewall and during the Civil Rights Movement, WWII, and the Red Scare, Bayard Rustin was no ordinary Civil Rights leader. Yet, because of his extraordinary organizing abilities, he was selected to organize the famous March on Washington, where his friend and mentee, Dr. King, gave his famous "Dream" speech. Join Dr. Justin Barringer, a published Rustin expert, and the Hendrix community for this celebration of Black history as we watch Oscar-nominated actor Coleman Domingo star in the film Rustin - produced by Barak and Michelle Obama. 

    Monday, February 19th, 2:00 P.M. in the Hundley Shell Theater in the Miller Creative Quad. 

    Rustin Film Screening

    Steel Center Bible Study led by Dr. Williamson and Barringer
    February 13th - The Parable of the Sower

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    Steel Center Bible Study led by Dr. Williamson and Barringer
    February 6th, 2024 - Their Faith Has Made You Well

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    Steel Center Bible Study led by Dr. Williamson and Barringer
    January 30th, 2024 - The Gospel of Mark

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    PAST EVENTS 2023



    August 29th, "The 'Second' Biblical Account of Creation" (Genesis 2-3)

    Sept. 5th, "The Fall of Humankind" (Genesis 3)

    Sept. 12th, "Resisting Pharaoh"

    Sept. 19th, "Saving Moses"

    Sept. 26th, "The Economics of Pharaoh (Exodus 5)

     Oct. 10th, "Debt Forgiveness" (Deuteronomy 15)

    Oct. 17th, "The Year of Jubilee" (Leviticus 25)

    Oct. 24th, "Economic Justice in the Hebrew Prophets"

    Oct. 31st, "Jesus and Economic Justice: The Gospel of Luke"

    Nov. 7th, "Jesus and Economic Justice: The Rich Young Ruler and the Rich Fool" 

    Nov. 14th, "Jesus and Economic Justice: The Lord's Prayer"
    Nov. 28th,  "Jesus and Economic Justice: The Sheep and The Goats"

    The Social Face of Pandemics in East Africa and Beyond Lecture - Dr. Esther Mombo

    Thursday, October 26th 7:00 pm - Mills A

    Please join us in welcoming visiting scholar Dr. Esther Mombo, Kenyan religious historian and practitioner who works at the intersections of religion and health to the Hendrix campus. During this lecture Dr. Mombo will discuss how pandemics such as HIV/AIDS, Covid-19, and climate change exacerbate the social and material conditions for already marginalized communities and address ways we can confront those social epidemics. 

    Mombo Lecture

    News Release: https://www.hendrix.edu/esther-mombo-steel-center-lecturer/ 

    Sam King “Useful Friction” Ellis Hall Exhibitions Opening and Discussion hosted by the Steel Center

    Friday, September 22nd 4:10 to 5:10 pm – Ellis Hall

    This event is free and open to the campus community and the public. Family Weekend Guests Welcome!

    From Sam King:

    Useful Friction

    Useful Friction refers to the tension between intuitive and grid-based visual structures which drives the composition of my paintings, as well as the tension a viewer might feel when engaging paintings that do not represent familiar imagery. We tend to apply our perception for essential purposes: seeking food, shelter, safety, or pleasure, for example. With this habit as a default setting, perception for its own sake (or for some elusive end), might seem indulgent or unnecessary. I recognize metaphor in this contrast. Is a person’s value merely a reflection of their utility within a system, or can it be internally generated?  


    When I paint, I am pursuing meaningful relationships of color, line, shape, and material. My paintings are embodiments of experience: the passage of time, chance, change, and the formation and abandonment of habits. They are the results of a sustained program of improvisation. Paintings might be broken down and recombined over several years, with long intervals of time separating periods of focused work. There is metaphor in this, for me, as well. The self, in my view, is realized in negotiation with its context over time. It is a hub within a wider matrix of constantly changing connections.  


    The concept of useful friction applies as well to my guitar-based audio project, called Untight, in which I overlay harmonies produced using just intonation with the harmonies of standard, twelve tone equal temperament. Sometimes, notes using the two systems are similar enough that the listener would not notice any difference; other times, the notes beat against each other, creating a shimmering, sometimes disorienting sensation that is for many listeners not quite music, but not merely sound, either. 

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    Tuesday, February 28th 

    Struggling with Statehood: Israel, American Jews, and the Palestinians after 1948- Steel Center Lecture, featuring Geoffrey Levin, PhD Hendrix Visiting Altheimer Scholar 


    For centuries, being Jewish automatically meant being a minority, but with Israel’s birth, that suddenly changed. After 1948, Israel’s control over an Arab minority led American Jews to grapple with new dilemmas, which this talk will explore.

    Tuesdays, 11:15-12:15

    The Bible and Radical Politics, led by Professor Justin Barringer, Instructor of Religious Studies

    Thursday, Oct. 27th

    Brunch Q&A, featuring Visiting Scholar Dr. Paul Katsfanas

    Thursday, Oct. 27th 

    Fanaticism and Resentment - Steel Center Lecture featuring Visiting Scholar, Dr. Paul Katsafanas


    What makes an individual or a group fanatical? How does fanaticism differ from other pathologies such as extremism, cultishness, and dogmatism?  Dr. Paul Katsafanas, Professor of Philosophy and Director of Graduate Studies at Boston University, will explore the way in which fanaticism might be linked to resentment. Reception to follow. This event is open to the non-Hendrix community.


    Friday, September 23rd

    Expressing Nature’s Value 


     Can we express the value of nature? Experiences of natural environments involve perceptions of the beauty of a flower, the sublimity of a tornado, the wonder of the starry sky. Some theorists have suggested that the value of nature outstrips artistic expression, that there’s always some color, some sound, some movement, or some power missing in attempts to represent nature. However, landscape artists have employed a variety of strategies for trying to capture the beauty, sublimity, and wonder of nature. Expressing Nature’s Value aims to highlight how there are diverse strategies in landscape painting that can be employed to highlight the value of nature. The Steel Center for the Study of Religion and Philosophy in Ellis Hall welcomes you to explore those strategies through the works of three artists from across the country that each create landscape works. Shannon Evans, Ginger Knowlton, and Cydney Williams each have two pieces in the Expressing Nature's Value exhibition. Expressing Nature’s Value will run for a year in Ellis Hall and the opening will be held from 4 pm to 5:30 pm on Friday, September 23rd in the Ellis Hall Living Room.  

    First Event of the Year!

    Steel Center Meet & Greet!

    Meet the Religious Studies and Philosophy Faculty, learn about the programs we offer and the ways you can become involved. Snacks and drinks provided! Ellis Hall Lawn 4:10 to 5:10 Wednesday,  August 31st. All are welcome!

    Summer News!

    Happy Summer students, faculty, and staff! It has been a successful year of events and programming largely thanks to your thoughtful participation. We appreciate every attendee, contributor, and the perspectives they add to our events. If you would like a piece of the Steel Center to take with you this summer, we are currently accepting students for a new reading group. The book is by David Livingstone Smith titled, Less than Human: Why we Demean, Enslave, and Exterminate Others Less than Human is the first book of its kind  to discuss and theorize why we sometimes think of others as subhuman. Using history, evolutionary psychology, biology, anthropology, and philosophy, David Livingstone Smith provides a coherent interdisciplinary account of what dehumanization is, how it's used, and how to deconstruct it. The Steel Center will have dinner and discussion in the fall to discuss students' thoughts on the book, so be sure to grab a copy during finals week for summer reading! Email steel@hendrix.edu for more details!

    2022 Events:

    Steel Center Brunch with Bryan Van Norden 

    April 14th 11 am to noon, Ellis Hall

     -For the Hendrix Community-

    An opportunity to share food and conversation with Dr. Van Norden. No lecture or talk topic, just open discussion.

    Bryan Van Norden Spring Lecture and Reception 

    April 14th 7 pm, Mills B, reception to follow in the Mills Library

    Learning from Chinese Philosophy

    When Europeans first encountered Chinese Confucians, Daoists, and Buddhists, they immediately recognized them as serious philosophers.  However, this attitude changed due to the influence of imperialism and pseudo-scientific racism, so that (beginning with Kant) Chinese philosophy was dismissed and banned from academic philosophy in the West.  Recently, works like my Taking Back Philosophy: A Multicultural Manifesto have challenged the status quo and demanded that we return to the cosmopolitan ideal of multicultural philosophy.  This lecture provides several examples of the profound and distinct philosophical debates that existed in China on issues such as consequentialism, human nature, ethical egoism, relativism, and skepticism.

    Worldview Porch Brunch 

    Thursday, March 10th 11-12pm

    For the Hendrix Community - Open discussion of our perspectives on reality, knowledge, and values. All points of view are welcome (and snacks are provided). 

    "Should Nietzsche Be Canceled?" Lecture and Discussion

      Featuring Carl Sachs PhD, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Marymount University (Arlington, VA)

    Thursday, February 3rd 11:15 am- 12:15 pm Ellis Hall (In-person and via Zoom)

    To obtain the zoom link in advance, email steel@hendrix.edu.


    Friedrich Nietzsche is one of the most frequently taught philosophers and often engaged students with his irony, wit, and subversive humor. For many decades, Nietzsche's influence on Nazis and other fascists has been downplayed or ignored. Yet recent scholarship on Nietzsche has argued that Nietzsche's 'dark side' is ignored only at a terrible cost. On this reading, Nietzsche believed that slavery is the basis of culture and hated the rise of liberal democratic societies in which slavery was abolished. His critique of Christianity is based on a critique of the moral system in which slavery is seen as morally wrong -- a moral system that was invented by the slaves for their own benefit. This strand of Nietzsche's thought not only inspired the Nazis but also influences contemporary neo-fascists, reactionaries, and influential figures on the "alt-right". If Nietzsche's thought is seducing people to reject the basic principles of liberal democracy, is it morally irresponsible for us to teach Nietzsche to college students? Does Nietzsche's dark side affect how we ought to teach Nietzsche, if indeed we should?

    2021 Events:

    Aesthetic Agency? The Authority Approach Steel Center Lecture

        Featuring Steel Center Visiting Scholar, Dr. Keren Gorodeisky, Author & Professor of Philosophy (Auburn University)

    Thursday, November 11th 7 pm Worsham Hall (limited to 50 guests), Reception to follow


    Engagements with aesthetic value pervade human life. We choose to wear these shoes because they beautifully match the dress; we travel to Petra on account of its beauty or we love Michaela Cole’s TV show, I May Destroy You, as powerful and deep. Our aesthetic engagements appear to be as significant to our lives as human beings as our theoretical inquiries and practical pursuits. But is there anything worthy of the name aesthetic agency?

    Until very recently, there has been no discussion of aesthetic agency. This is likely because aesthetics has traditionally focused not on action, but on appreciation, while the standard approach identifies ‘agency’ with the will, and more specifically, with the capacity for intentional action and voluntary control. In this lecture, I argue, first, that this identification is unfortunate since it fails to do justice to the fact that we standardly attribute beliefs, emotions, desires and other attitudes that aren’t formed ‘at will,’ including aesthetic appreciation, to people’s agency. Fortunately, we need not abide by this Practical Approach, but can develop an alternative: the Authority Approach to rational agency, which I defend in this lecture. This is great news for aesthetics, I argue additionally, because any account of aesthetic agency that accepts the Practical Approach and focuses on aesthetic actions fails to provide a genuine notion of aesthetic agency. This is because we have no handle on what counts as aesthetic actions independently of these actions’ relation to appreciation: actions are “aesthetic” only derivatively insofar as they center around things that merit (dis)appreciation. For this reason, we have genuine aesthetic agency only if we can exercise agency in appreciating, which is not an exercise of the will. Since the Authority Approach allows us to explain how we exercise agency in aesthetic appreciation, it equips us with a genuine conception of aesthetic agency.

    Lecture will be available via Zoom as well, register in advance by emailing steel@hendrix.edu.

    Worldview Porch Brunch

    Thursday, October 27th noon to 1pm

    For the Hendrix Community - Open discussion of our perspectives on reality, knowledge, and values. All points of view are welcome (and snacks are provided).


    2021 Events:

    Steel Center Visiting Scholar Dr. Reggie Williams to Speak at Two Online Events, March 17 and 18Hendrix College welcomes expert on Dietrich BonhoefferCONWAY, Ark. (March 9, 2021) — The Marshall T. Steel Center for the Study of Religion and Philosophy at Hendrix College welcomes Reggie Williams, Ph.D., associate professor of Christian ethics at McCormick Theological Seminary, as its Steel Center Visiting Scholar for 2021. His visit will occur remotely due to COVID-19 restrictions; nevertheless, he will speak at two Hendrix-based events, both of which are free and open to the public:· Wednesday Afternoon Discussion/Virtuous Conversations Series, 4:10 to 5:10 p.m. CDT: “Learning to Be Troubled: Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Experience in Harlem”· Steel Center Lecture on Thursday, March 18, 2021, 7:15 to 8:15 p.m. CDT: “What Killed Dietrich Bonhoeffer?”Dr. Williams’ book Bonhoeffer’s Black Jesus: Harlem Renaissance Theology and an Ethic of Resistance (Baylor University Press, 2014) was selected as a Choice Outstanding Title in 2015 in the field of religion. The book analyzes German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s exposure to Harlem Renaissance intellectuals, and worship at Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church, during his year of post-doctoral study at Union Seminary in New York, 1930-31. Williams will focus on this particular time in Bonhoeffer’s life, and how it influenced his resistance of the Nazi regime, for the content of the Wednesday Afternoon Discussion.In addition to Bonhoeffer, Williams’ research interests include Christological ethics, theological anthropology, Christian social ethics, the Harlem Renaissance, race, politics and black church life. His current book project includes a religious critique of whiteness in the Harlem Renaissance. In addition, he is working on a book analyzing the reception of Bonhoeffer by liberation activists in apartheid South Africa.Williams received his Ph.D. in Christian ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary in 2011. He earned a master’s degree in theology from Fuller in 2006 and a bachelor’s degree in religious studies from Westmont College in 1995. He is a member of the board of directors for the Society for ChristianEthics, as well as the International Dietrich Bonhoeffer Society. He is also a member of the American Academy of Religion and Society for the Study of Black Religion.While both events are free, pre-registration is required for access to the Zoom platform. Email steel@hendrix.edu by noon on the day of the event to make a reservation and receive event access.

    The Nazi forces that Bonhoeffer opposed were a local, historical manifestation of lethal ideas that predated Hitler’s regime, and outlived it. For consideration of who we must be, today, in order to oppose those forces, it matters that we ask, not “who” killed Bonhoeffer, but, “what” killed him?


    2021 Steel-Hendrix Awards Announced

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    CONWAY, Ark. (March 4, 2021) — The Marshall T. Steel Center for the Study of Religion and Philosophy at Hendrix College will present the 36th Annual Steel-Hendrix Awards to the Rev. Dr. Michelle J. Morris, Sophia Said, and Jennifer White. Because of pandemic restrictions on gatherings, these extraordinary church and community leaders will receive this year’s awards remotely, in a ceremony that will premiere Monday, March 29, at 4 p.m. on the Steel Center Facebook page and the Hendrix College YouTube Channel.

    Information about the Steel-Hendrix Awards and each award’s recipient follows:

    The Rev. Dr. Michelle Morris – The Mary and Ira Brumley Award for Religious Education

    The Rev. Dr. Michelle J. Morris is an ordained elder in the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church. She has served congregations in West Memphis and Fort Smith, and now serves as an Associate Pastor overseeing the digital campus of First UMC Conway. She has also worked on staff in the Arkansas Conference, focusing on church revitalization and new church starts. That work gave rise to Gospel Discipleship, two books (a participant guide and congregation guide) which helps people understand their discipleship in terms of defining paths spelled out in each of the four Gospels. 

    Also during her time on the Conference staff, Morris oversaw the design and launch of the Arkansas Conference’s online learning system, CouRSe, which provides free online courses to anyone. When COVID-19 broke out, she also coordinated the Conference webinar responses. She directs the Arkansas Course of Study for local pastors and teaches at the regional course of study at Perkins School of Theology at SMU in Dallas. 

    Morris holds two degrees from the University of Arkansas – a Bachelor of Arts in English and French and a Master of Arts in Comparative Literature. She also has her M.Div. and a Ph.D. in Religious Studies (emphasis New Testament), both from SMU in Dallas. Morris writes for the Adult Bible Studies curriculum and is one of the writers for the CEB Women’s Bible. She is passionate about connecting people to Jesus in meaningful ways, and loves to help people gain a deeper understanding of their discipleship.

    Sophia Said – The Ethel K. Millar Award for Religion and Social Awareness

    Sophia Said is the Executive Director of the Interfaith Center in Little Rock, Arkansas. She has helped establish this outreach ministry to build bridges of peace and understanding and enhance public dialogue among different faith communities. 

    Said designs and implements interfaith initiatives in order to educate people about the various faith traditions and promote interfaith dialogue and awareness. She has provided community leadership by exemplifying interfaith cooperation skills through several of her programs, including interfaith summer camp for youth, interfaith youth group for teens, educational classes and workshops for adults, interfaith prayer events, interfaith supper club, and much more. She has also increased awareness about the rights of immigrants and religious minorities by educating and bringing diverse communities together in Arkansas. 

    Sophia is also the founder of Madina Institute, a mosque in Little Rock committed to the principles of compassion, education, illumination, and inclusion, serving the spiritual, social, and educational needs of a growing Muslim population in Little Rock. 

    Born and raised in Pakistan, Sophia moved to United States for higher education. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Utah in 2007 with a degree in economics. She has a master’s degree from the Clinton School of Public Service and has worked as a strategic adviser and gender based economic development consultant locally and internationally.

    A recipient of the Humanitarian of the Year award from Just Communities of Arkansas, the Peacemaker of the Year award from Arkansas Coalition of Peace and Justice, and several other awards from local and state-based organizations, Said is committed to creating peaceful, diverse communities based on the principles of coexistence and pluralism.

    Jennifer White – Hendrix College Youth Minister of the Year

    Jennifer “Pooh” White was born and raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has been connected with First United Methodist Church of Stuttgart since birth. After high school, she moved to Arkadelphia and attended Ouachita Baptist University, graduating in 2011 with a degree in Christian studies with an emphasis in youth ministries, crisis counseling and a minor in psychology. 

    White started her career as an intern at her home church, which led to her taking on the leadership of the youth program. For the past decade, she has been the director of youth ministries at First United Methodist Church of Stuttgart, running a cooperative youth program with FUMC and Grand Avenue United Methodist Church of Stuttgart. To deepen her expertise, she has attended Perkins School of Youth Ministry and taken seminary courses.

    Beyond her local church, White currently serves as co-leader of the Southeast District Council on Youth Ministries, on the Refuge Task Force for the Arkansas Conference Council on Youth Ministries (ACCYM), and on the ACCYM adult research team. Through the past 10 years, she has helped grow the Stuttgart youth program from three members to over 100, giving of her time to mentor young people and volunteer in her community, making a difference in countless lives.

    The Marshall T. Steel Center for the Study of Religion and Philosophy at Hendrix College will host a reading group on Murray Bookchin's "The Ecology of Freedom The emergence and dissolution of hierarchy". The group will meet on February 26th, March 26th, and April 30th from 4 to 5pm Via Zoom. The reading group will be led by Dr. James Dow- Steel Center Director & Associate Professor of Philosophy. To sign up for the reading group, make arrangements to receive your book and receive Zoom link information, please email steel@hendrix.edu by Friday, February 5th. 

    Visiting Altheimer Scholar – Dr. David Livingstone Smith, Author and Professor of Philosophy (University of New England)

    Altheimer Lecture – On Inhumanity: Dehumanization and How to Resist It

     Thursday, October 22nd at 7pm. We will be hosting this event via Zoom and livestreaming it to our Facebook page. To register in advance, please email steel@hendrix.edu.


    One evening, Rudolf Höss, the commander of the Auschwitz extermination camp, was sipping wine with his brother-in-law Fritz. Fritz asked him what the termsubhuman meant. “Look, you can see for yourself,” Höss, replied, “They are not like you and me. They are different. They look different. They do not behave like human beings.” The Holocaust, the enslavement and brutal lynching of Black Americans, and many other atrocities, were fueled by such dehumanizing beliefs. Drawing on ten years of research, and using real examples, Dr. Smith will explain how dehumanization works, focusing on its close connection to racism, its psychological dynamics, and what we need to do to resist and combat its toxic power. -Dr. David Livingston Smith

     Visit the FB event page https://www.facebook.com/events/344143183489537

    Dr. Smith will also be leading the Steel Center Wednesday Afternoon Discussion What, If Anything, Is Race? on October 21st at 4:10 pm. Visit https://www.hendrix.edu/steelcenter/wednesdayafternoon/ for more information. 

    David Livingstone Smith is Professor of Philosophy at the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine. He has written or edited nine books, including Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave and Exterminate Others (St. Martin's Press, 2011), which won the 2012 Anisfield-Wolf award for nonfiction and his latest book, On Inhumanity: Dehumanization and How to Resist It. His work has been translated into seven languages. David is an interdisciplinary scholar, whose publications are cited not only by other philosophers, but also by historians, legal scholars, psychologists, and anthropologists. He has been featured in several prime-time television documentaries, is often interviewed and cited in the national and international media, and was a guest at the 2012 G20 economic summit, where he spoke about dehumanization and mass violence.

    2020 Events

    Philosophy Flicks 

    Inside Out

    Friday, March 6th, 2020

    @6pm in Ellis Hall

    Everyone is welcome! Popcorn and beverages will be provided!


    A Clockwork Orange

    Monday, March 30th, 2020

    @6pm in Ellis Hall

    Everyone is welcome! Popcorn and beverages will be provided!


    The Lorax

    Monday, April 6th, 2020

    @6pm in Ellis Hall

    Everyone is welcome! Popcorn and beverages will be provided!


    Ellis Study Hall

    Beginning January 28th, the Steel Center will host a study hall period in Ellis Hall. Study Hall will take place on Tuesday evenings throughout the spring semester from 6 pm to 8 pm. A student attendant will be present at all times. Study Hall is open to any Hendrix student. 

    Let’s Talk About Beauty: Invitations and Aesthetic Discourse

    November 7th in Mills B

    Normative discourse, or talk of what we ‘ought to’ or ’should’ do, is often said to be distinctive in aiming at convergence. When we talk about what we ought to do, think, believe, or feel, the thought goes, we aim to get everyone on the same page and ‘converge’ in our beliefs, feelings, plans, etc. While this might be true of some normative domains, I argue that it is not true of the aesthetic. Like much moral discourse, typical aesthetic claims seem to express feelings or have prima facie imperatival force. But, as I argue, the conversational aims aesthetic discourse are distinctive. A symptom of this is the special type of speech act we typically perform in aesthetic discourse. Understanding the speech act requires understanding the force of aesthetic imperatives, and among the several options a few stand out: demand, request, recommendation, and invitation. To adjudicate between these options, I present an account of the normative character of aesthetic discourse and argue that the invitation reading fares best. On this view, typical aesthetic claims include invitations to appreciate. It turns out that the ‘end’ of aesthetic discourse is community, in a sense, not convergence, and so we should reject theories of aesthetic conversation that emphasize convergence.

    Led by Nick Riggle, Author and Assistant Professor of Philosophy at University of San Diego

    Ellis Hall Exhibit:

    The Anthropogenic Sublime 

    Hurricanes, floods, droughts, and tornadoes produce sublime experiences of nature being bigger than us, more powerful than us, and beyond our comprehension. But, once we acknowledge human-caused changes in the natural environment in the Anthropocene, how do we use art to express the sublimity of natural environments? Works in The Anthropogenic Sublime approach questions about the boundary between humans and nature, about activity and passivity, and about how we express and represent ourselves, our environments, and nature in an era of human caused changes to the natural environment.  


    OPENING – Friday, September 27th 5 -7 pm in Ellis Hall  This is a come and go event featuring the works of six artists with a guided walk through at 6 pm.



    The exhibit will be open in Ellis Hall from September 2019 – August 2020.

    Lecture and Brunch

    Thursday, September 19th, 2019

    Reading Group

    Led by Dr. James Dow

    Contact steel@hendrix.edu for your free copy of the book!

    *while supplies last*


  • Previous Events 2018-2019

     Wednesday Afternoon Discussion

    April 24th, 2019

    The Body of Empathy: Can Art Cultivate Empathy?

    “Hendrix College cultivates empathy” is the first clause of our statement of purpose. The Ellis art exhibit The Body of Empathy, curated by Dr. Dow and Dr. Lopas, asked the question of whether engaging with art can enable us to cultivate empathy. Dr. Dow will lead a discussion about the aesthetics of portrait paintings, discuss the artworks in the exhibition, and will argue that empathizing with personas and scenes in portrait paintings cultivates empathy in ways that differ from interacting with people and nature.

    Led by Dr. James Dow

    April 17th 7 pm in the Mills Center, Room B

    The Ethics of Portraiture

     Featuring Steel Center Guest – Dr. Anne Eaton, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Affiliate to Art History and Gender Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago

     Portraits can provoke the highest levels of moral outrage that the artworld has seen. Consider, for instance, Marcus Harvey’s Myra, which was widely and vociferously decried in the UK in the mid 1990’s. Can such outrage be justified? If so, what makes a  portrait the proper object of moral judgment? If not, what sort of mistake, exactly, are the morally outraged making? In this paper I consider a variety of features of portraits that at least appear to make them proper candidates for moral evaluation: (1) moral attributes of the artist, (2) the moral valence of the processes of making the portrait, (3) and the portrait’s effects in the world. After finding each wanting to some degree, I offer an alternative understanding of what makes a portrait the proper target of moral judgment and consider some examples.

    This is a free event, open to everyone.

    A reception will follow the lecture in the Mills Center Library.


    Philosophy Flicks 

    Being John Malkovich

    Thursday, January 24th, 2019 

    @7pm in Mills A

    Everyone is Welcome! Popcorn and beverages will be provided!

    Steel Center Art Opening "The Body of Empathy" 

    September 19th, 2018 from 4pm-8pm

    Please join us in Ellis Hall for an art opening for The Body of Empathy on September 19th from 4pm-8pm with a descriptive walk through the exhibit at 6pm. The Body of Empathy is an internationally juried show of environmental portrait paintings by six different artist: Donna Festa, Karen Fleming, Nina Jordan, Eva O'Donovan, Emily McIlroy, and Niamh McGuinne. The yearlong show is jointly curated by Professor Mathew Lopas and Dr. James Dow. The theme of The Body of Empathy is whether we can empathize with characters or persons in paintings. Can looking at the human body in a painting be a type of ethical witnessing of the life of a person? How does engagement with paintings cultivate empathy differently than perspective taking with people?

    Donna Festa

    Green Sweater, 2013

    Oil on Panel 

    4in x 4.5in

    Donna Festa

    Man with Gray Shirt, 2012

    Oil on Panel 

    6in x 6in

    Donna Festa

    Happy Birthday Evie Smith, 2012

    Oil on Panel 

    6in x 6in

    Donna Festa

    Woman with Thinning Hair, 2012

    Oil on Panel 

    6in x 6in

    Donna Festa

    Thoughts, 2013

    Oil on Panel 

    4in x 4in

    Eva O'Donovan 

    Emma, 2018

    Oil on Printed Fabric

    35in x 45in

    Niamh McGuinne

    Wilgefortis, 2018

    Thermal Transfer Screen Print and Encaustic on Aluminum 

    42cm x 35cm

    Emily McIlroy 

    Memory: Autopsy, 2014

    Oil and Black Pastel on Paper

    52in x 33in

    Karen Fleming

    Burden, 2018

    Oil on Board

    61cm x 61cm

    Nina Jordan

    1131 LaSalle St., 2015

    Oil on Canvas

    48in x 60in

    Previous Events 2017-2018

    Wu-wei as Transformative Experience 

    November 8th, 2018 from 7pm-8pm

    Dr. Julianne Chung

    This presentation explores the possibility that the philosophical and religious ideal of wu-wei (variously translatable into English as, e.g., "no-trying", "no-doing", "non-action", or "effortless action" (cf. Slingerland 2003 and 2005)) can-at least it is presented in the Zhuangzi-be fruitfully interpreted as a transformative experience. It begins by describing in more detail what wu-wei is before explaining why it can be understood as a transformative experience for Zhuangzi. The overall project, however, is ultimately one that involves multidimensional multicultural exchange, rather than, say, one that aims simply to re-interpret early Chinese philosophical ideas using tools furnished by contemporary Anglo-Zhuangist wu-wei as a transformative experience stands to enrich Anglo-analytic philosophy's understanding of the notion of transformative experience.



    "A Sand County Almanac with Essays on Conservation from Round River"

    The Steel Center for the Study of Religion and Philosophy will hold a reading group on Aldo Leopold's " A Sand County Almanac" and other readings meeting mostly biweekly on Wednesdays starting September 26th from 4:10pm to 5:10pm and Nature walks in local natural areas every third week on Saturday afternoons starting October 6th with Dr. James Dow and Dr. Maureen McClung. The focus of discussions will be Leopold's account of environmental value.

    Please join us as we recognize the release of Dr. Robert Williamson's new book!

    Ellis Hall Open House


    Come visit and tour Ellis Hall. Recently renovated and new home to Religious Studies, Philosophy and The Marshall T. Steel Center. 

    Refreshments will be provided.

    Thursday, April 19th

    7pm in Mills B

    Praising and Loving the Unjust: the Problem of Socratic Patrotism 

    with Dr. Emily Austin- Hendrix '00 

    Reception to follow in the Mills Library 

    Friday, April 20th

    3:30pm to 4:30pm in the RaPC

    Steel Center: Friday Afternoon Discussion 

    The Steel Center & The Raney Building: How They Shaped My Life

    with Dr. Amanda Baugh '04, Dr. Emily Austin '00 and Dr. Jay McDaniel

    Saturday, April 21st

    10:30am DW Reynolds, Room 10

    Book Talk with Dr. Amanda Baugh '04 & Dr. Whitney Bauman '98

    Facilitated by Dr. Fred Ablondi & Dr. Jay McDaniel 

    Book signing to follow


    at 2pm on the Ellis Hall Lawn

    Join us for an afternoon of Traditions, Memories, History and the future of the Steel Center by Dr. Jay McDaniel. Recognition of Dr. McDaniel and dedication by Dr. Stella Capek & Dr. Bill Gorvine. Announcement of the Steel Center Director and the new Steel Center home. This is a come and go event & refreshments will be provided.

    (In case of rain, we will gather in the Mills Lobby)

    Hendrix College Altheimer Lecture & Events

    Join us on Tuesday, April 17th at Hendrix College for two special events featuring guest speaker-

    Anat Hoffman, Israeli Activist and Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center.

    Co-sponsored by: The Marshall T. Steel Center and the B’nai Israel Temple

    Presenters from South Central Seminar 

    in Early Modern Philosophy

    To view more photos from the conference visit the hendrix flicker account: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hendrixcollege/albums/72157688072553252/with/38822930252/

    Saturday, March 3rd in the RaPC from 9AM-12PM

    Interfaith Workshop

    While most interfaith resources are concentrated in urban areas, the need to cultivate hospitality toward other religions exists in rural areas as well. During this workshop, we will explore the characteristics of “an interfaith mindset,” learn about existing interfaith initiatives in rural Arkansas, and brainstorm new ways to cultivate interfaith understanding in areas where religious diversity is not readily apparent. All are welcome.

    The workshop is sponsored by the Greater Arkansas Interfaith Network, with assistance from the Steel Center for the Study of Religion and Philosophy, and facilitated by Dr. Jay McDaniel and the Rev. Teri Daily.

    Saturday, February 24th at Hendrix Campus

    Regional Interfaith Conference – “Interfaith Community and the Future of American Democracy”

    With the support of Interfaith Youth Core, Hendrix College will host a one-day regional student interfaith training focused on the potential of interfaith collaboration to transform the American political landscape. The morning keynote will feature Miroslav Volf of Yale Divinity School, who will focus on the value of building interfaith relationships. The afternoon will feature a workshop on building interfaith community and shaping that community for political advocacy, led by the Arkansas Public Policy Panel. Students will have the opportunity to meet and build relationships with students from other campuses. Participating schools include: Hendrix CollegeLyon CollegeUniversity of Central ArkansasUniversity of the Ozarks and Rhodes College.

    Tuesday, September 19th                 

    7pm in the Mills Center, Room A

    Faith in Black and White: The Church and Race in ‘Colorblind’ America – The Bible in Black and White

    Featuring – Guest Speaker, Dr. Nyasha Junior – author and Biblical Scholar. This is a public speaker event to explore the systems of racial injustice in contemporary American culture and the role of the Church in creating a more racially just society. The event is free and open to the public. A reception and book signing will follow in the Mills Center Library.

    Pictures of the event can be seen here.

    Wednesday Afternoon Discussion

    September 20th, 3:30pm to 4:30pm in the RaPC

    No Crystal Stair: Becoming a Black Woman Biblical Scholar

    Guest speaker – Dr. Nyasha Junior, author and Biblical Scholar. Dr. Junior will discuss her intellectual journey and the challenges along the way. Open to the public. Tea and coffee will be provided.

    Pictures of the event can be seen here.

    Thursday, September 21st                                                                       

    8 to 9 pm in the Brick Pit

    Peace Vigil and Dedication an Arkansas Peace Week Event

    Guest speakers include: Sophia Said, Director and Interfaith Leader of the Madina Institute of Little Rock. Reverend and Dr. Denise Donnell, Director of Just Communities of Arkansas. Tyler Pearson, of Compassion Works for All. Event includes a candlelight vigil and signing of the peace manifesto. This event is open to the public.

    Thursday November 16th

    7 pm in Mills B

    Death: A History

    Guest speaker – Dr. Gideon Manning, Scholar of Philosophy


    “This talk will explore some of the myriad ways in which death is more than a biological event, for it is a historical event in the fullest sense, affecting art, literature, economics, government organization, and cultural and social practices. This is easiest to see when death occurs on a massive scale, as in epidemics, like the Black Death, or in times of war, like the U. S. Civil War. By focusing on these events and the broader history of death, this talk will identify some of the changes that have occurred in how death is experienced, represented, and has been conceived in Western culture. Questions that will be relevant to the subjects discussed include: What is the ideal death? How does a good death relate to a good life? How should we plan for death? What role do physicians have at the end of life? How should we mourn? Is death to be feared? Is immortality desirable? References will be made to the history of medicine, ancient and contemporary philosophy, the Old and New Testament, sociology, history of economics, and literature.” – Dr. Manning


    The talk will be followed with an opportunity to meet and visit with Dr. Manning in the Mills lobby. Coffee will be served. This event is free and open to the public.

    Friday through Saturday, November 17th – 18th


    The eighteenth annual meeting of the South Central Seminar in Early Modern Philosophy will be held Friday-Saturday, November 17-18, 2017 at Hendrix College (Murphy Building – Seminar room), in Conway, Arkansas.  As with other Seminars in Early Modern Philosophy held throughout North America and Europe every year, the papers presented here cover subjects in philosophy from (roughly) the period Montaigne to Kant.  For program times and schedule, please visit:




    Attendance is free and all are welcome, though those planning to attend are asked to make your reservation to Tammy Vanaman (vanamant@hendrix.edu) by November 1.

    PHILOSOPHY FLICKS- A series of film screenings and discussions that will occur once monthly.

    Thursday, February 8th 7pm in Mills C

    No Philosophy association is necessary and everyone is welcome. Popcorn and drinks will be provided! You are welcome to participate in a brief discussion after the film (but it’s not required). 


    Thursday, October 26th 7pm in Mills C

    September 14th at 7 pm in Mills C

    Previous Events 2015-2016

    Steel Center Film Screening & Friday Afternoon Discussion

    A film screening of "If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front" will be held in the RaPC at 4 pm on Thursday, December 1st. A Friday Afternoon Discussion will follow on Friday, Dec. 2nd from 3:30 to 4:30 in the RaPC. The discussion will cover whether or not environmental disobedience is ever justified and will be presented by the Philosophy Dept. seniors and facilitated by Dr. James Dow. The film screening and discussion are open to everyone.  

    Dare to imagine

    “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.  On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”  So writes Arundhati Roy, Indian novelist and author of The God of Small Things.  Another world becomes possible through acts of social imagination. 

    From October 10-18, 2015, people throughout the United States, influenced by hopes for the common good of the world, are creating Imagination Stations in public spaces nationwide.  One of them will be on the brick patio at Hendrix on October 12-14.  It is sponsored by the Hendrix Murphy Foundation, The Steel Center for the Study of Religion and Philosophy, Fat Soul International, and the “Art and Spirit” course of The Engaged Citizen initiative.  With chalk provided by the Hendrix Murphy Foundation, members of the Hendrix community (students, staff, and faculty) can write their own haiku and short poems, or draw images if they prefer, envisioning the world they wish to inhabit and—looking back from the future—celebrating the work  that helped bring it into existence. The entire process will be videotaped through time-lapse photography. The resulting texts, images, videos, and more will be uploaded to an online platform, yielding a crowd-sourced vision of the future, inspiring art, policy, and community action.

    31st Annual Steel – Hendrix Awards Banquet

    Thursday, March 10, 2016

    Banquet and Awards at 5:30 p.m. 
    Worsham Performance Hall

    Please join us to celebrate these individuals who have made significant contributions in the areas of religious education, social awareness, and youth service.

    • Anthony Falkowski  – The Ethel K. Millar Award for Religion and Social Awareness
    • DrBrooks Holifield – The Mary and Ira A. Brumley Award for Religion Education
    • Lori Fallon  – The Hendrix College Youth Director of the Year

    (Tickets are $20 until February 19 $25 after that date w/ deadline of March 4, contact  mulhearn@hendrix.edu  or call 501-450-1263)

    Followed By: Wilson Lecture at 7 P.M.

    Hope in a Time of Climate Change: A Dialogue Between the Bible and Science

    Presented by:  Dr. Carol Newsom of Emory University

    Charles Howard Candler Professor of Old Testament and Past President of the Society of Biblical Literature 

    Carol Newsom

    Religious language: How “different” is it from everyday language and why?

    Thursday, April 7, 2016 


    7pm Mills B followed by a reception in the Mills Library

    Presented by guest speaker Dr. Eve Sweetser Professor of Linguistics, University of California – Berkeley

    It is rather a standing trope of the discourse about religious language that it is special.  This is often said to be due to the ineffable nature of religious experience, simply beyond the capacity of language to express.  And yet – we keep on using language to express it.  Indeed, we keep on using the same kinds of language (many of the same metaphors, for example) which are part of our everyday grammatical repertory.  This talk will explore some of these structures, and discuss some of the reasons why this should be so. 

    *The event is free and open to the public.

    Campus Map 

    Farewell to the Raney Building 

    Saturday, April 16, 2016

    Reception 11 a.m. to noon 
    Raney building lobby

    We will bid farewell to Mary Richardson, Instructor of Speech at Hendrix since 1979; Stephen Kerr ’76, Virginia A. McCormick Pittman Distinguished Professor of Economics and Business, who has taught at Hendrix since 1979; and to the Raney building itself that will make way for the future Dawkins Welcome Center. If you cannot join us, please send your warm wishes to Mary and Stephen in care of the Office of Alumni and Constituent Engagement and we will deliver them.

    Farewell Raney 

    “Tibetan Sang Chö (Incense Offering) Ritual”

    Tuesday, April 26, 2016

    Presented by Geshe Shenpen Samdrup and Dr. Gorvine


    This traditional smoke or incense offering ceremony traces its roots to the indigenous Bön tradition of Tibet, which preceded the arrival of Buddhism in Tibet. It uses a variety of fragrant plants (such as juniper/cedar, sage, and other aromatics) as offerings to sanctify a given space and to restore one’s relationship with the physical and spiritual environment, purifying impurities and pollution in the process. This popular ritual as currently performed by laity and monastics integrates the practical, life-affirming concerns of Tibetans with the wisdom-teachings and compassionate-activities of enlightened beings (or Buddhas). It is believed that by participating in the offering, one may enhance one’s health, vitality and wellness, wish the same for others, and enjoy integrating with a broader, sacred world. Doing so may also help with final exams and projects! This particular performance will be conducted by Geshé Shenphen Samdrup, a Tibetan monk, scholar and spiritual teacher from Menri monastery in northern India, and all are welcome to join in! 

    “Calming the Mind, Engaging the Heart: A Guided Meditation in the Tibetan Tradition” 

    Thursday April 28, 2016


    Mills Library at 4:10 p.m.
    Presented by  Geshe Shenpen Samdrup and Dr. Gorvine 

    Come meet Geshé Shenpen Samdup, a monk, scholar, and spiritual teacher in the Tibetan Bön religious lineage who was born in the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan and comes to us from Menri monastery in northern India. Drawing from his many years of study and practice, along with his experience working with students from around the world, Geshé Samdup will share insights and invite participants to get an experiential appreciation for how Tibetan practitioners understand and undertake meditation practice, and how these approaches might be of value to a variety of interested people.   

    Falls Corbitt

    Dr. Peg Falls-Corbitt Philosophy Professor to Receive Distinguished Professorship

    September 1st, 11:10 a.m.

    Hendrix College will formally install Dr. Peg Falls-Corbitt as the Virginia A. McCormick Pittman Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at a special ceremony on Thursday, Sept. 1, at 11:10 a.m., in Reves Recital Hall in the Trieschmann Fine Arts Building. Guests from the community are welcome to attend.

    Read More

    “Chanting, Contemplation and Inspiration: An Experiential Journey with the Nechung Oracle, Advisor to the Dalai Lama”

    Saturday, Oct. 22, at 10 a.m.

    Reves Recital Hall in Trieschmann Fine Arts Building

    The event will feature a presentation by the State Oracle of Tibet, the Venerable Thubten Ngodup, who will be accompanied by Lama Tenzin Choegyal and seven monks from Nechung Monastery. 
    In this special event, Lama Tenzin Choegyal will offer a brief introduction to guests and to the chants they will offer, and he will facilitate an introduction by the Venerable Thubten Ngodup (Kunten-la) to Tibetan contemplative practice. 
    Following this, attendees are invited to participate in a wide-ranging question and answer session. 

    The program is co-sponsored by the Marshall T. Steel Center, the Interdisciplinary Program in Asian Studies, and the Miller Center for Vocation, Ethics, and Calling. 

    For more information, contact Hendrix religious studies professor Dr. Bill Gorvine at  gorvine@hendrix.edu or 501-450-3820.

    Epistemic Injustice and the Child Presented by Dr. Deborah Tollefsen

    November 10, 2016

    Mills B at 7pm Followed by Reception in Mills Library

    In Epistemic Injustice (2007) Miranda Fricker argues that there is a distinct type of harm done to those who are discredited due to prejudicial stereotypes. This harm is distinctively epistemic in nature as it prevents a person from participating in the knowledge production practices of a community and deprives a subject of full epistemic status. The examples that Fricker focuses on are those involving race and gender. The woman who is given less credibility in the boardroom when she speaks, for instance, because of prejudicial stereotypes about women, suffers not just a moral injustice, but an epistemic one. Dialogue with others—dialogue across difference—is possible only if we acknowledge the phenomenon of epistemic injustice and work to ameliorate it. In this talk, I raise the question of whether children, as a class, are subject to epistemic injustice. I argue that they are and that this is not only detrimental to the child but to the adult's ability to understand and gain knowledge of the world.

    - Dr. Deborah Tollefsen

    This event will include a Q&A time at the end of Dr. Tollefsen's talk. A reception in the Mills Library will follow. This event is open to the public. 

    Dr. Tollefsen will also lead the  Steel Center's Friday Afternoon Discussion - Shaping the Group Mind - Friday November 11 at 3:30 in the Religion and Philosophy Commons (RaPC)