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Conference News

Forgive my failure to put up my standard two posts last week. My Drexel email account has apparently been corrupted and I spent the majority of last week working with the tech support people at Drexel trying to fix it. Unfortunately, they have so far been unable to solve the problem, so anyone who wishes to email me should, for the time being, address all emails to my Apple Webmail account: mgpiety@me.com.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that I just returned from the first International Conference on Religion and Spirituality in Society. Unlike many conferences that claim to be “international,” this one truly was. There were just over 100 participants, but these included scholars from Japan, Jordan, Germany, Nigeria, Portugal, the UK and Kuwait, to name just a few of the countries represented. The keynote speakers included internationally famous and widely published indologist Wendy Doniger from the University of Chicago and Steve Shoemaker, host of the popular and critically acclaimed weekly public radio program “Keepin’ the Faith.” Doniger gave a fascinating talk on the issue of whether Hinduism was monotheistic or polytheistic (her answer was yes) and Shoemaker talked about how he got started with his radio program and the kinds of guests he has had (from poet laureates, Imams and Rabbis to student activists), to why he thinks programs such as his are important. In between were many other stimulating presentations the topics of which varied from religion and spirituality in contemporary popular culture to the same in ages past. It was one of the most interesting and stimulating conferences I have been to recently because of the variety of topics covered and because the small size facilitated better discussions.

Now what, you are undoubtedly asking yourself, does this have to do with Kierkegaard? Well here’s the thing: the call for papers is already up for next year’s conference in Vancouver and it seems to me that this would be a great opportunity for Kierkegaard scholars to present their work and to meet and exchange ideas with other scholars in related fields. Check it out!

Newsflash– “Piety” is a Real Surname!

I’d like to clear up what may be a confusion in the minds of some of my readers. I got an email a few days ago, from someone who liked the blog, asking me if “Piety” was a pen name. Yes, that’s a natural question, I suppose, especially for a Kierkegaard scholar (I’m sure John Wisdom was always being asked if “Wisdom” was his real name). “I know that word,” people probably think, “and it’s not a name!” That, in any case, was the explanation offered by my friend David Leopold for why the American Academy of Religion spelled my name wrong. That seems plausible. Either that, or they simply didn’t know how to spell “piety” (which, if it were true, would confirm the suspicions of the folks over at the Society of Biblical Literature).

No, “Piety” is my real name. There have been Pietys in the U.S. since before the Revolutionary war. In fact, my ancestor, Thomas Piety, served under Gen. Arthur St. Clair (an ancestor of Jeff St. Clair, editor of the online journal Counterpunch) in the American Army when George Washington was president.

My father, Harold Piety, was briefly the religion editor at the East St. Louis Journal. He used to enjoy answering the phone: “Religion, Piety speaking.”

I changed my name, when I married the legal scholar Brian J. Foley, to “Marilyn Gaye Piety Foley,” so “Piety” is still my real name, or at least part of it. I plan to keep using it too. I think it’s a good name for a Kierkegaard scholar.

Keep checking back. I’ve got some great posts coming up, including one on hitherto unknown caricatures of Kierkegaard, another on my forthcoming book Fear and Dissembling, and, of course, more on Tudvad’s book and its reception in Denmark.

Piety on Kierkegaard

Welcome to “Piety on Kierkegaard.” I’m the Kierkegaard scholar M.G. Piety. I’m an associate professor of philosophy at Drexel University in Philadelphia. I’m the translator of Kierkegaard’s Repetition and Philosophical Crumbs (Oxford, 2009) and the author of Ways of Knowing: Kierkegaard’s Pluralistic Epistemology (Baylor, 2010).. I moved to Denmark in the fall of 1990 on a Fulbright fellowship to work on Kierkegaard’s epistemology at the University of Copenhagen and remained there until the fall of 1998. That’s right, I lived in Denmark for eight years. That was an enormously valuable period for me as a scholar. My teaching duties were light and my access to sources was almost unlimited.

I made many important contacts when I lived in Copenhagen. I’m fortunate in that these contacts keep me up to date with what’s going on in Kierkegaard scholarship in Denmark. I’m starting this blog, in part, to allow people outside Denmark to keep up with these goings on as well. The first bit of news I have is that Pia Søltoft is supposedly the new director of the Søren Kierkegaard Research Center, even though her name does not appear on their website.

I’m not going to write exclusively about what’s going on in Denmark though, I’m also going to post information about my books on Kierkegaard and other books that I think would be of interest to Kierkegaard scholars.