The Rethinking of Religious Belief in the Making of Modernity, Blagoevgrad, 2017


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Stela Tasheva, Sasha Lozanova

The International Society for Intellectual History (ISIH) was created in 1994. Traditionally, ‘intellectual history’ is interpreted as an identification and analysis of ‘intellectual traditions, disciplines, and practices, as they developed over time, were inextricably interconnected both to one another and to more concrete historical conditions.’ (ISIH, 2017). Prof. Michael Hunter (Birkbeck College, University of London) is ISIH Executive Committee President. The last four conferences of the research community were held at Princeton University, New Jersey (2013); Victoria College, University of Toronto (2014); Rethymnon Campus, University of Crete (2016) and American University in Bulgaria (30 May – 1 June 2017).

We are sharing here impressions of the latest conference, held in Blagoevgrad in our capacity as participants.

Obviously, the topic of the conference, The Rethinking of Religious Belief in the Making of Modernity was as relevant as ever, especially nowadays in the light of the technological breakthroughs, political developments and the ensuing global processes, armed conflicts, regional depopulation, migration, environmental issues, etc. The large number of papers was indicative of the interest in the topic. They treated religion in all its historical and local forms as a meeting point of a number of economic, social, cultural processes and developments. The conference was dominated by historians, philosophers and theologians. Political analysts, philologists, ethnologists and art historians formed a smaller group. The participants’ research profiles allowed for a very wide interdisciplinary scope.

Given the thematic scope of the event, most of the papers broached the early modern period (17th through the 20th cc.) focusing on the development of the Western philosophy (incl. research on the ideas of Martin Luther, Samuel von Pufendorf, John Locke, Isaac Newton, George Berkeley, Henri de Saint-Simon, Auguste Comte, as well as of some of the later such as Karl Marx, Heidegger, Benjamin, etc.). Most of the topics dealt with the development and rethinking of Catholicism, Protestantism, and less with Orthodoxy and other Abrahamic religions (incl. Judaism and Islam). Some of the colleagues presented their views of the issues (and modernisation) of Hinduism, Shinto and Buddhism. The most numerous were historiographic works. Certain authors evaluated and revaluated great and less popular figures and religious ideas in various historical and/or contemporary contexts. To us, being representatives of a country with an Orthodox culture, very interesting were the papers presented by Itzchak Weismann, Haifa University, Israel, The Making of Islamic Modernity: Salafi Thought between the Forefathers and the West; Anna Blijdenstein, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, Judaism and Islam: Remaking Religion in Enlightenment Thought and Mick Deneckere, Ghent University, Belgium, Japanese True Pure Land Buddhism and the Modernisation of Japan. In these works we witnessed overcoming of the Eurocentric point of view, which in our opinion limits the work of part of the contemporary research community.

Interesting Bulgarian studies were presented by Markus Wien, American University in Bulgaria, Thrown into Modernity? Re-defining Jewish Identities in Post-Ottoman Bulgaria and Ewelina Drzewiecka, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland, Understanding Religion: The Case of Bulgarian Modernity.

Our paper was titled Tracing Religion and Cult in the Architecture of European Totalitarian Regimes of the 20th c. Architectural research subject was not precisely typical of the disciplinary scope of the conference, but it was this perhaps that stirred up a discussion.

The rest of the Bulgarian participants were in tune with the general thematic scope, dealing with philosophic and religious problematics: Iordan Avramov, Intellectual Curiosity and Religious Diversity: Henry Oldenburg and Communication of Knowledge Within and Across; (Jordan Detev, In the Footsteps of a Lost Spirituality); Petar Cholakov, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, From Suspicion to Political Right: The Evolution of Locke’s Views on Toleration; Iva Manova, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Thomas Aquinas vs. Karl Marx: Neo-Thomists and Marxist-Leninists on Religion and Atheism (1950s-1960s.

The course of the conference was covered by regional media since the beginning. Participants were impressed both with the very strict time limits for the presentation of the papers and discussions and the marvellous working conditions and the spring and youth air of Blagoavgrad.

Conference venue

Campus of the American University in Bulgaria (AUBG)

Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria

Panels and keynotes:

Balkanski Academic Center (BAC), on the AUBG campus

Address: 8, Svoboda Bachvarova Street, Blagoevgrad

The foyer and the “Andrey Delchev” Auditorium are on the ground floor of the BAC.

Rooms 201, 202, 203, 204, and 206 are on the first floor of the BAC.

All rooms are equipped with a computer connected to the internet, a projector, a screen, a Hi-Fi system, a DVD reader, and whiteboards.

The main entrance of the BAC is the entrance facing the campus square.

Lunches and coffee breaks:

America for Bulgaria Student Center (ABF Center), on the AUBG campus

Address: 12, Svoboda Bachvarova Street, Blagoevgrad

The lobby is on the ground floor of the ABF Center.

The AUBG restaurant is on the third and last floor of the ABF Center.

The main entrance of the ABF Center is the entrance facing the campus square.

Conference banquet, with folklore show and live jazz music:

Hotel Park Bachinovo, restaurant

Address: Bachinovo Nature Park, Blagoevgrad (5 km from the AUBG campus, 4 km from the center of Blagoevgrad.)

The Hotel Park Bachinovo can be reached by taxi from the AUBG campus or the center of Blagoevgrad in less than ten minutes. The cost of a taxi drive from the AUBG campus or the center of Blagoevgrad to the Hotel Park Bachinovo is around 5 leva, i.e. around 2.50 euros.


DAY 1: TUESDAY, MAY 30, 2017

8.30-9.30: Distribution of conference folders and name tags (BAC foyer)

Coffee and snacks (BAC foyer)

9.30-10.00: Conference opening (BAC, “Andrey Delchev” Auditorium):

Michael Hunter (President, International Society for Intellectual History)

Steven F. Sullivan (President, American University in Bulgaria)

Emilia Zankina (Provost, American University in Bulgaria)

Diego Lucci (Conference convenor)

10.00-11.00: Keynote 1 (BAC, “Andrey Delchev” Auditorium):

Lyndal Roper (University of Oxford), Mortality and Hatred in Luther’s Antipapalism

Facilitator: Michael Hunter

11.15-12.30: Session 1 (BAC):

Panel 1.1 – Merchants of Light: Samuel Hartlib, John Evelyn, and Henry Oldenburg as Communicators of Knowledge

Room 201

Chair: Paolo Luca Bernardini

Iordan Avramov (Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Bulgaria), Intellectual Curiosity and Religious Diversity: Henry Oldenburg and Communication of Knowledge Within and Across

Mihnea Dobre (Western University “Vasile Goldis” Arad and University of Bucharest, Romania), Intermediaries, Merchants, and Polemicists: On the Letters Exchanged by Descartes, More, Petty, and Hartlib

Oana Matei (Western University “Vasile Goldis” Arad and University of Bucharest, Romania), Merchants of Light and Lamps: John Evelyn’s Projects of Natural History


Panel 1.2 – Judaism, Islam, and Modernity

Room 202

Chair: Markus Wien

Talya Fishman (University of Pennsylvania, USA), Jews and Creed in the Era of Confessionalization

Anna Blijdenstein (University of Amsterdam, Netherlands), Judaism and Islam: Remaking Religion in Enlightenment Thought

Itzchak Weismann (Haifa University, Israel), The Making of Islamic Modernity: Salafi Thought between the Forefathers and the West

Panel 1.3 – Religion in the Italian Risorgimento

Room 203

Chair: Elisa Bianco

Glauco Schettini (Fordham University, USA), Revolutionary Faiths: Politics and Religion in Late Eighteenth-Century Italy (1796-1799)

Alessandro De Arcangelis (University College London, United Kingdom), From the National Risorgimento to European Modernity: Religion in Italian Intellectual History, 1799-1861

Fernanda Gallo (Queen Mary University of London, United Kingdom, and University of Lugano, Switzerland), The Shaping of European Identities: Modernity and the Reformation in the Risorgimento Political Thought

Panel 1.4 – Enlightenment, Theology, and the Science of Religion

Room 204

Chair: Hans-Peter Söder

Eric Carlsson (University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA), Letter and Spirit: Rethinking Theology in the German Enlightenment

Katherina Kinzel (University of Vienna, Austria) and Niels Wildschut (University of Vienna, Austria), Religious Belief and Historical Science in German Historicism

Ralph Leck (Indiana State University, USA), Max Müller and the Science of the Sacred: Double Enlightenment in Milieus of Religious Fundamentalism


Panel 1.5 – From Republican Toleration to the Collapse of Pluralism: Towards an Episodic History of Toleration and Pluralism

Room 206

Chair: Douglas Jacobsen

Rafał Lis (Jesuit University Ignatianum, Poland), The Evolution of Republicanism and the Prospects of “Civil Religion” and Religious Pluralism in Late Eighteenth-Century Poland

Christopher Donohue (National Human Genome Research Institute, USA), “Pluralism is confined to cosmological arguments”: Pluralism, Religion and the Limits of Secularization

Jordan Detev (University of Sofia “St. Kliment Ohridski”, Bulgaria), In the Footsteps of a Lost Spirituality

12.30-13.30: Buffet lunch (AUBG restaurant in the ABF Center)

13.30-14.45: Session 2 (BAC):

Panel 2.1 – Religion and the State in Pufendorf and Locke

Room 201

Chair: Luka Ribarević

Heikki Haara (University of Helsinki, Finland), Pufendorf: Coercion, Religious Belief and Toleration

Petar Cholakov (Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Bulgaria), From Suspicion to Political Right: The Evolution of Locke’s Views on Toleration

Fabio Mengali (University of Trento, Italy), Locke’s Reasonable Christianity: From the Reason-Faith Relation to New Historical Social Bonds


Panel 2.2 – Religious Criticism and Intellectual Change

Room 202

Chair: Serguey Ivanov

Paschalis M. Kitromilides (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece), Spinozist Ideas in the Greek Enlightenment

Ioannis Kyriakantonakis (Centre for Asia Minor Studies in Athens, Greece), Ecclesiastical History as Intellectual Criticism: Early Modern Greek Contexts

Stefano Zappoli (University of Bergamo and State Classical Lyceum “Paolo Sarpi” in Bergamo, Italy), The Uses of Religion in the Movement of Italian Unification

Panel 2.3 – Christianity and Communism in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century

Room 203

Chair: Marianna Shakhnovich

Piotr Kuligowski (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland), Religious Language in Politics: The Case of the Polish Pre-Marxist Radical Left (1830s-1840s)

Anton Jansson (University of Gothenburg, Sweden), “The Pure Teachings of Jesus“: The Theologico-Political Language of Wilhelm Weitling’s Communism

Alexandra Medzibrodszky (Central European University, Hungary), Christianity, Socialism and Just Resistance in Late Imperial Russia

Panel 2.4 – Truth and Progress, between Science and Religion

Room 204

Chair: Teresa Castelao-Lawless

Petr Pavlas (Czech Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic), The Book Metaphor Triadised: A Layman’s Bible and God’s Books in Raymond of Sabunde, Nicholas of Cusa and John Amos Comenius

Paolo Luca Bernardini (University of Insubria, Italy), Looking for the Truth: A Re-Reading of Nicholas Malebranche

Daniel Špelda (Masaryk University, Czech Republic), The Idea of Scientific Progress and Secularization


Panel 2.5 – Medieval Political Thought

Room 206

Chair: Ian W.S. Campbell

Fani Giannousi (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece), “Potestas et Sapientia”: Religion, Ideology and Politics in the Carolingian Era

Ákos Tussay (Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Hungary), “Rex habet imaginem Dei”: The Theocratic Vindication of the Pre-eminence of the Kingly Estate

Sabeen Ahmed (Vanderbilt University, USA), The Secular Roots of Islamic Political Philosophy: Reading Averroes through Aristotle

15.00-16.15: Session 3 (BAC):

Panel 3.1 – Ancient Religions, Christianity, and the Search for True Religion in Enlightenment Britain

Room 201

Chair: Mihnea Dobre

Felicity Loughlin (University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom), The Study of “Paganism” in Enlightenment Scotland: A Crisis of the European Mind?

Michelle Pfeffer (University of Oxford, United Kingdom, and University of Queensland, Australia), Christian Materialism and the Reform of the Soul: Exegesis and Anti-Catholicism in Eighteenth-Century England

Matteo Bonifacio (University of Turin, Italy), Berkeley and the “Citadel of Christianity”

Panel 3.2 – Modern Concepts of Humanity, between Science and Religion

Room 202

Chair: Christopher Donohue

Monica Libell (Lund University, Sweden), Linnaeus’s Racialization of Man

Douglas H. Shantz (University of Calgary, Canada), Making the Modern Self: Culture, Identity and Autobiography in Eighteenth-Century German Pietism and Enlightenment, 1700 to 1790

Elisabeth M. Yang (Rutgers University, USA), Horace Bushnell’s Notion of the “Essentia Organica” in “Christian Nurture” and His Child-Centered Anthropology


Panel 3.3 – Bulgaria from Modernity to Socialism

Room 203

Chair: Kiril Petkov

Markus Wien (American University in Bulgaria, Bulgaria), Thrown into Modernity? Re-defining Jewish Identities in Post-Ottoman Bulgaria

Ewelina Drzewiecka (Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland), Understanding Religion: The Case of Bulgarian Modernity

Sasha Lozanova (University of Forestry, Bulgaria) and Stela Tasheva (Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Bulgaria), Tracing Religion and Cult Influence in the Architecture of European Totalitarian Regimes in the Twentieth Century

Panel 3.4 – Modernity and Theology: Alternative Interpretations and Developments

Room 204

Chair: Adriano Vinale

Hans-Peter Söder (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany), Theologies of Knowledge: From Saint Simon and Comte to Stiegler’s Decadent Societies

Slobodan Dan Paich (Artship Foundation, USA, and Victor Babes University Timisoara, Romania), Understanding and Misunderstanding: Currents of Modern Thought Inclusive of Transcendence

Beninio McDonough-Tranza (Free University of Berlin and Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany), Prosperity Theology and the New Spirit of Capitalism

Panel 3.5 – Liberalism, the Welfare State, Republicanism, and Religion

Room 206

Chair: Sean Homer

Arthur Ghins (University of Cambridge, United Kingdom), The French Exception: Constant, Tocqueville and the Religious Underpinnings of Liberalism

Kristian Keto (University of Helsinki and University of Tampere, Finland), Religion and the Welfare State: A Historical Approach

Konstantinos Bizas (University of Jyväskylä, Finland), Concepts and Method in J.G.A. Pocock’s Republicanism


16.15-16.45: Coffee break (ABF Center lobby)

16.45-17.35: Session 4 (BAC):

Panel 4.1 – Newton’s Religion

Room 201

Chair: Oana Matei

Irene Zanon (University of Venice “Ca’ Foscari”, Italy), The Alchemical Apocalypse of Isaac Newton: A Syncretic Study of Newton’s Alchemy and Eschatology

Remus Gabriel Manoila (University of Bucharest, Romania), The Fall of Monarchy: Isaac Newton’s Reading of Tertullian

Panel 4.2 – Persisting Devotional Practices and Innovative Beliefs in Early Modern Central and Western Europe

Room 202

Chair: Cyril Selzner

Finn Schulze-Feldmann (Warburg Institute, United Kingdom), Persisting Devotional Practices as a Challenge for the Established Churches: The Discrepancy between Dogma and Belief in Early Modern Christendom

Lyke de Vries (Radboud University, Netherlands), The Rosicrucian Upheaval: “allgemeiner reformation divini et humani”

Panel 4.3 – Religion and Modernization in India

Room 203

Chair: Itzchak Weismann

Binal Somani (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, United Kingdom), Finding the Self in Colonial Gujarat: A Study of Swaminarayan Hinduism

Leena Taneja (Zayed University, United Arab Emirates), Hindutva: How the Rise of “Essential” Hinduism Is Shaping Modern India’s Political Landscape


Panel 4.4 – Theology in Higher Education

Room 204

Chair: Wayne Hudson

Serguey Ivanov (American University in Bulgaria, Bulgaria), Two Hypostases in One Person: Biblical Theology in a Liberal Arts Curriculum

Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen (Messiah College, USA) and Douglas Jacobsen (Messiah College, USA), Re-Conceptualizing “Religion” in Modernity and Post-Modernity

17.45-18.45: Keynote 2 (BAC, “Andrey Delchev” Auditorium):

Michael Hunter (Birkbeck, University of London), The Supernatural and the Natural in English Thought, 1650-1750

Facilitator: Iordan Avramov

19.00: Meeting time for the guided walking tour of Blagoevgrad

Meeting point: BAC main entrance

Duration: one hour


DAY 2: WEDNESDAY, MAY 31, 2017

9.30-10.20: Session 5 (BAC):

Panel 5.1 – Hume on Religion

Room 201

Chair: Francesca Rebasti

Laura Nicolì (Italian Institute for Historical Studies, Italy), First Symptoms of Religion in Mankind: Hume, the Philosophes and the Heathens

Spyridon Tegos (University of Crete, Greece), Rituals and Moral Culture in the Enlightenment: Hume on Religious and Secular Rituals in the Civilizing Process

Panel 5.2 – Religious Differences, Polemics, and Conflicts in Early Modern Europe

Room 202

Chair: Talya Fishman

Kiril Petkov (University of Wisconsin-River Falls, USA), War, Religion, and Modernity: Cross-Cultural Conflict and the Rationalization of Western Religions in the Early Modern Mediterranean

Elisa Bianco (University of Insubria, Italy), “Protestant Byzantium”: The Byzantine Church as Precursor of the Reformation in Louis Maimbourg’s Works (1610-1686)

Panel 5.3 – Rethinking Time in Twentieth-Century Philosophy

Room 203

Chair: Marco Russo

Vladimir Glebkin (Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Russia), Interpretations of Boredom in Modernity: The Case of Pascal and Heidegger

Hjalmar Falk (University of Gothenburg, Sweden), The Messianic Moment: Löwith, Benjamin, and the Modern Regime of Time


Panel 5.4 – Religion in Contemporary Cinema

Room 204

Chair: James Coffin

Sean Homer (American University in Bulgaria, Bulgaria), Orthodoxy and the National Imaginary in the Films of Milcho Manchevski

Liat Steir-Livny (Sapir Academic College and Open University of Israel, Israel), God’s Neighbors: The Representation of Judaism and Religious Fanaticism in Israeli Cinema

10.35-11.25: Session 6 (BAC):

Panel 6.1 – Antitrinitarianism and the Racovian Catechism in Jacobean England

Room 201

Chair: John Coffey

Ariel Hessayon (Goldsmiths, University of London, United Kingdom), The Supposed Burning of the Racovian Catechism in 1614: Historical Context and Primary Sources

Diego Lucci (American University in Bulgaria, Bulgaria), The Supposed Burning of the Racovian Catechism in 1614: The Origin and Transmission of a Historiographical Myth

Panel 6.2 – Catholic Practices and Institutions, from the Counter-Reformation to the Enlightenment

Room 202

Chair: Andreas Motsch

Tiziana Faitini (University of Trento, Italy), A Catholic History of the “Profession”: The Moral Problematization of Professional Activities and the States of Life in the Post-Tridentine “Institutiones morales”

Stanislaw Witecki (Jagiellonian University, Poland), A Variety of Catholic Enlightenment: Reform Programs of Bishops in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth


Panel 6.3 – Modernization and Secularization in Nineteenth-Century Japan

Room 203

Chair: Francesco Campagnola

Andreea Barbu (University of Bucharest, Romania), Alternative Stories of Modernity and Secularization in the Nineteenth Century: Europe and Japan

Mick Deneckere (Ghent University, Belgium), Japanese True Pure Land Buddhism and the Modernisation of Japan

Panel 6.4 – Repressed Concepts: On Religion and Abstract Art in the Twentieth Century

Room 204

Chair: Slobodan Dan Paich

Samuel O’Connor Perks (Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium), Religious Phenomenology and Abstract Art: Rethinking the Connection between Catholic Ideas and the Menil Art Collection

Rajesh Heynickx (Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium), A Forgotten Conception of Abstract Art: Michel Seuphor’s Pre-War Conversion

Panel 6.5 – The Fascination with Classical Greece in Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Europe

Room 206

Chair: Paschalis M. Kitromilides

Pandeleimon Hionidis (Independent Scholar, Greece), The Anglican Church and Philhellenism in Mid-Victorian Britain, 1866-1881

Stefano Gulizia (Independent Scholar, Italy), The Alcestis Effect: Warburg and the Religion of the “Ancients” in Imperial Hamburg

11.45-12.45: Keynote 3 (BAC, “Andrey Delchev” Auditorium):

Jonathan I. Israel (Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton), Spinoza, Tindal and the “Dutch Way”: The Western World’s Tortuous Path to a Democratic Republicanism Stripped of All “Ius in Sacra” (1650-1800)

Facilitator: Adam Sutcliffe


12.45-13.45: Buffet lunch (AUBG restaurant in the ABF Center)

13.45: Meeting time for the trip to the Rila Monastery

Meeting point: ABF Center lobby

14.00: Departure to the Rila Monastery (by coach)

17.00: Departure from the Rila Monastery (by coach)

The Monastery of Saint Ivan of Rila is one of the nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Bulgaria. It is situated in the Rila Mountains, at an elevation of 1,147 m (3,763 ft). The monastery is named after its founder, Saint Ivan of Rila (876-946), and today houses around 60 monks. The oldest building in the Rila Monastery, Hrelyo’s Tower, was built in 1334-35, whereas most of the monastery was destroyed by fire in 1833 and was reconstructed between 1834 and 1862.

Entrance to the Rila Monastery, its church, and some rooms is free. The monastery also hosts a small museum with many artifacts from the Middle Ages and the early modern period: an individual admission ticket to the museum costs 8 leva (i.e. around 4 euros).



9.30-10.45: Session 7 (BAC):

Panel 7.1 – Hobbes’s “Theology” under Scrutiny: Covenant, Liberty of Conscience and Obligation between Biblical Exegesis and Politics

Room 201

Chair: Theodore Christov

Luka Ribarević (University of Zagreb, Croatia), Political Hebraism in “Leviathan”: Hobbes on Abrahamic and Sinai Covenants

Francesca Rebasti (Normal Superior School of Lyon, France), Liberty of Conscience between Heresy and Orthodoxy: Hobbes’s Exegesis of the Gloss on Romans 14:23

George Wright (University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA), Is Christianity in Hobbes a “Civil Religion”?

Panel 7.2 – Catholic Thought in the Time of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation

Room 202

Chair: Douglas H. Shantz

Dawid Nowakowski (University of Lodz, Poland), “Bodies can be compelled; minds must be turned, since they cannot be compelled”: Preaching as an “Introduction” to Law in the Ecclesiastes of Erasmus of Rotterdam

Gennaro Cassiani (Independent Scholar, Italy), Rethinking Filippo Neri on the Counter-Reformation Stage (1515-95)

Ian W.S. Campbell (Queen’s University Belfast, United Kingdom), The Scotist Revival, Anti-Aristotelianism, and Enlightened Modernity


Panel 7.3 – Religion in the Russian Empire, from the Enlightenment to the Revolution

Room 203

Chair: Tatiana V. Chumakova

Andreas Berg (Bond University, Australia), Mysticism, Polizeistaat and the Fragmentation of the Idea of Europe in the Russian Enlightenment

Antonina Kizlova (National Technical University of Ukraine “Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute”, Ukraine), Rethinking of Sacred Space in Kyiv Dormition Caves Lavra (19th – early 20th century)

Ekaterina Teryukova (Saint Petersburg State University, Russia), The Russian Religious Legislation in the Age of Revolutions (1905-1917): After the Russian Imperial Officials’ Researches

Panel 7.4 – Religion and the United States in the Contemporary Era

Room 204

Chair: Pierangelo Castagneto

Michael Akladios (York University, Canada), The Rebirth of Coptic Ecumenism: Bishop Samuel and the Archdiocese of North America, 1920-1981

Rafal Milerski (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany), Religious Freedom in the Catholic Church: A Fruit of Americanization?

James Coffin (Ball State University, USA), Men Create Gods in Their Image: Religious Adaptation among Modern Navajo

11.00-12.15: Session 8 (BAC):

Panel 8.1 – Calvinism in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Britain and North America

Room 201

Chair: Andrew Murphy

Cyril Selzner (University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, France), Dreams of a New Order: Early English Presbyterian Sacred and Secular Political Theory

Adam Faircloth (Pennsylvania State University, USA), Resistance Theory and the Reconceptualization of the Federal Covenant in Milton, Knox, and Ponet

Gerard F. Willemsen (Protestant Theological University, Netherlands), The Atheist and the Puritan: Religious Doubt in Seventeenth-Century Transatlantic Anglo-Puritanism


Panel 8.2 – Sociability, Utility, and Religion in Enlightenment Britain

Room 202

Chair: Petar Cholakov

Alvin Chen (University of Oxford, United Kingdom), Two Concepts of Enlightenment: Sociability and Progress in Bernard Mandeville and George Berkeley

Shinji Nohara (University of Tokyo, Japan), Fellows and Non-Fellows in Adam Smith

Raffaele Russo (University of Innsbruck, Austria), Manufacturing Obedience: Bentham’s Utilitarian Critique of Institutional Religion

Panel 8.3 – Interpreting Spinoza

Room 203

Chair: Jonathan I. Israel

Albert Gootjes (Utrecht University, Netherlands), Between French Libertines and Dutch Cartesians: Spinoza’s Utrecht Visit (1673) and the Printing of the Ethics

Li-Chih Lin (University of Groningen, Netherlands), Mapping Nature through Language: Reading Spinoza’s Language with the “Book of Nature”

Adam Sutcliffe (King’s College London, United Kingdom), Spinoza and Jerusalem: Spinozism, Radicalism and Jewish World-Historical Purpose in the Zionist Vision of Moses Hess

Panel 8.4 – Revisiting Thomas Aquinas

Room 204

Chair: Riccardo Pozzo

Ritva Palmén (University of Helsinki, Finland), The Sense of Shame in Medieval and Renaissance Philosophical Psychology

Andrea Favaro (Faculty of Canon Law “St. Pius X”, Italy), The Paradigm of Sovereignty and Its Religious Fundaments: The Political Theology of St. Thomas Aquinas and Carl Schmitt on the Autonomy of the Individual

Iva Manova (Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Bulgaria), Thomas Aquinas vs. Karl Marx: Neo-Thomists and Marxist-Leninists on Religion and Atheism (1950s-1960s)


Panel 8.5 – Humanistic Religion in Twentieth-Century Philosophy

Room 206

Chair: Valentin Cioveie

Marco Russo (University of Salerno, Italy), A Humanist God? On the Relationship between Humanism and Religion in the Twentieth Century

David Férnandez Navas (Complutense University of Madrid, Spain), “Not humiliate anything”: Perspectives on María Zambrano’s Philosophy of Love

Adriano Vinale (University of Salerno, Italy), Christianity as a European Counter-Myth: Simone Weil’s and René Girard’s Destitution of the Founding Violence

12.30-13.30: Buffet lunch (AUBG restaurant in the ABF Center)

13.30-14.45: Session 9 (BAC):

Panel 9.1 – Reading Cicero in the British Enlightenment: Religion, Morality and Political Authority

Room 201

Chair: Spyridon Tegos

Tim Stuart-Buttle (University of Cambridge, United Kingdom), Locke, Stillingfleet and the Immortality of the Soul

Katie East (Newcastle University, United Kingdom), Reading Religion: The Transmission of Ciceronian Theology in the English Enlightenment

Ashley Walsh (University of Cambridge, United Kingdom), “Religio” Stripped of “Superstitio”: David Hume’s Ciceronian Conception of the Church-State Relationship


Panel 9.2 – Science and Religion in the Making of Modernity

Room 202

Chair: Daniel Špelda

Ovidiu Babeş (Western University “Vasile Goldis” Arad and University of Bucharest, Romania), John Wilkins and Probable Opinion: Is the Moon just like the Earth?

Teresa Castelao-Lawless (Grand Valley State University, USA), Lagging behind Enlightened Europe? Inacio Monteiro, Teodoro de Almeida, and the Public Circulation of Experimental Philosophy in Portugal

Jan Molina (University of Warsaw, Poland), The Mechanics of the Divine: The Idea of the Subject’s Sovereignty in the Works of de Sade and de Maistre

Panel 9.3 – Reflecting on Religion in Russia, from the Revolution to the Post-Soviet Era

Room 203

Chair: Ekaterina Teryukova

Marianna Shakhnovich (Saint Petersburg State University, Russia), The Revolution of 1917 and the Science of Religion in Russia

Tatiana V. Chumakova (Saint Petersburg State University, Russia), Vladimir N. Beneshevich on the Church and Revolution

Vera Pozzi (Independent Scholar, Italy), Tolerance and Intolerance in Russian Orthodoxy: Kant and Orthodox Thought in Post-Soviet Historiography

Panel 9.4 – Philosophizing on God in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century

Room 204

Chair: Eric Carlsson

Michael Glass (Temple University, USA), Kierkegaard: Religious Difference without Relativism

Riccardo Pozzo (University of Verona, Italy), Philosophizing on the Concept of God

Stuart Mathieson (Queen’s University Belfast, United Kingdom), James Orr and Abraham Kuijper: The Genesis of a Christian Worldview


Panel 9.5 – Modernity and Secularization: Fundamentalist Answers and the Meaning of Authentic Religion

Room 206

Chair: Ralph Leck

Alina Giosanu (University of Bucharest, Romania), Orthodox Fundamentalism: The Rejection of Modernity

Sorina Elena Amironesei (University of Bucharest, Romania), The Many Faces of Postmodern Idolatry and the Answer of the Icon

Valentin Cioveie (University of Bucharest, Romania, and Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany), Hermeneutics of Christian Identity in Very Recent Modernity

15.00-16.15: Session 10 (BAC):

Panel 10.1 – Politics and Religion in Hobbes

Room 201

Chair: George Wright

Alissa MacMillan (University of Antwerp, Belgium), Fear Transformed: From Religious to Religion in the Early Modern Period

Alessandro Mulieri (FWO Research Foundation Flanders and Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium), The Marsilian Roots of Thomas Hobbes’s Politics of Religion

Theodore Christov (George Washington University, USA), Hobbes, Schmitt, and the Unity of the State

Panel 10.2 – Protestantism, Politics, and Progress: Contested Intellectual Legacies

Room 202

Chair: Ariel Hessayon

Andrew Murphy (Rutgers University, USA), Religious Toleration and Moral Orthodoxy: William Penn and the Politics of Conscience

John Coffey (University of Leicester, United Kingdom), William Wilberforce and “the Literati of Modern Times”

Pierangelo Castagneto (American University in Bulgaria, Bulgaria), Awakening the American Revolution: Joseph Tracy’s “History of the Revival of Religion in the Time of Edwards and Whitefield” (1842)


Panel 10.3 – Encountering and Comparing Ancient and Non-European Religions in Eighteenth-Century Europe: On Difference as Distance from Modernity

Room 203

Chair: Mick Deneckere

Francesco Campagnola (Ghent University, Belgium), The Classics as a Paradigm for Japanese Religions and Religious Policies: Positioning Modernity in Space and Time

Andreas Motsch (University of Toronto, Canada), Jesuit Modernity between Comparative Religion and the Anthropology of the Religious: The Case of Joseph-François Lafitau’s “Moeurs” (1724)

Wim de Winter (Ghent University, Belgium), Two Late Eighteenth-Century European Travelers’ Images of and Interactions with Chinese Religions against the Background of Early Modernity

Panel 10.4 – Religious Music and Poetry

Room 204

Chair: Stefano Zappoli

Gioia Filocamo (Superior Institute for Musical Studies “G. Briccialdi” in Terni, Italy), Accepting Death through Laude: Lay Theology for the Bolognese Gallows during the Early Modern Era

Marco Beghelli (University of Bologna, Italy), Singing Forbidden: Women and Castrati in Churches and Theatres

Mariateresa Storino (Conservatory of Music “O. Respighi” in Latina, Italy), Music as a Means of Reconciliation between Religious Belief and Humanistic Culture: The Case of Franz Liszt

16.15-16.45: Coffee break (ABF Center lobby)

16.45-17.45: Keynote 4 (BAC, “Andrey Delchev” Auditorium):

Wayne Hudson (University of Tasmania), Religion and Modernity: Hidden Histories

Facilitator: Robert White (AUBG Dean of Faculty)

17.45-18.00: ISIH meeting (BAC, “Andrey Delchev” Auditorium)


20.00: Conference banquet

Show of the Folklore Ensemble “Biser”

Live jazz music by the Big Band Blagoevgrad

Conference closing

Venue: Hotel Park Bachinovo, restaurant (Bachinovo Nature Park, Blagoevgrad)


The Conference is co-organized by the International Society for Intellectual History (ISIH) and the American University in Bulgaria (AUBG).

The Organizing Committee would like to thank the following organizations:

At ISIH: Advisory Board; Executive Committee; Editors of the Intellectual History Review

At AUBG: Conferences and Events Office; Accounting Office; Bookstore; Dining Services; Division of Finance; Facilities Office; Faculty Office; Office of Communications and Marketing; Office of Computing and Communications; Office of the Dean of Faculty; Office of the President; Office of the Provost; Purchasing and Travel Office; Residence Life and Housing Office; Student Services; Transportation Office; Faculty Assembly; Academic Affairs Committee; Department of History and Civilizations

Folklore Ensemble “Biser”; Big Band Blagoevgrad; Rila Monastery; Hotel Park Bachinovo; Hotel Monte Cristo

Special thanks to Radosveta Miltcheva, Antoniya Arnautska, Rumyana Boshkilova, and Anelia Stoyanova

Cover image: Pieter Bruegel the Elder, “The Tower of Babel”, c. 1563 (detail)

Conference poster by Giles Timms (American University in Bulgaria)

For more information, please contact the conference convenor, Diego Lucci, via email at:


Thank you for participating in ISIH 2017!


The Rethinking of Religious Belief in the Making of Modernity, Blagoevgrad, 2017

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