Speculative Non-Buddhism

ruins of the buddhist real

Incite Seminars

Posted by Glenn Wallis on December 30, 2016

inciteseminarsI am launching a new project in Philadelphia called Incite Seminars. It will consist of mainly 6-week, 15-hour courses on what I feel are crucial and timely topics. The emphasis is on the humanities; so, we will explore material, old and new, from philosophy, literature, psychoanalysis, theology, and beyond.

I am inviting other educators to join me. I am also talking to several activists organizations about creating a humanities course for historically underserved communities (something along the lines of the Harlem Clemente program). Please contact me with any ideas or interests you may have.

For now, I am kicking it off with the following seminar:

Critical Introduction to Buddhist Thought

Buddhism is enjoying great popularity in the West. This is not surprising. Buddhist thought, after all, claims to offer wise insight into many of the weighty matters that concern us today. This seminar will explore foundational Buddhist ideas. It will, however, do so critically. That is, we will also be asking whether or not Buddhist thought is up to the task of stimulating meaningful personal and social change here and now.

Time: Wednesday evenings, 6-8:30pm, February 15-March 22.
Place: CultureWorks, 1315 Walnut St., Suite 320, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Cost: $195

You can find more information at my website. Here’s the Facebook page.

If you’re in the Philadelphia area, please consider joining us. It is sure to be lively and stimulating. Thanks!

 

9 Responses to “Incite Seminars”

  1. This is great to hear Glenn. I wish you all the best with it. Have you thought at all about recording these events on video or perhaps even just audio? You could offer the first one for free and then ask a nominal fee for the follow up content. Just a thought.

  2. wtpepper said

    Good luck with this! I looked at the list of proposed seminars, and they all look great. Please let us know how the project develops–if you can find even a dozen people interested in engaging in this kind of thinking, it would surely be a sign of hope for humanity.

  3. Larry Denenberg said

    Wonderful idea at a time when self reflection is becoming all the more important.

  4. Danny said

    This is fantastic–all the best, Glenn. I second Matthew’s notion, also hoping you might consider expanding these seminars to include a weekend or all day Saturday alternative for interested out-of-towners?

  5. wtpepper said

    I’d like to second Danny’s suggestion above. Even locals might have trouble scheduling five weeks of class, if they aren’t currently students!

  6. Red said

    “Buddhist Thought” is too generic, it will be very hard to do critical/proper justice to it if we do not pin it down. Please define the context, boundary, target. It can get very muddy, just as with analyzing any overreaching practice(s). For example “yoga”;

  7. Thanks, everyone. Five people have signed up so far. I am hoping for another three-five participants. Larry (#3), I do believe that the times call for creating communities of knowledge and dialogue that can spark action, individual and collective.

    For now, I am going to take an old-fashioned approach. It will be a group of people reading hard copy books, sitting in a room facing one another, speaking in the flesh. I have taken several online seminars. They left me cold. Maybe there is a way to do it that is not so impersonal. If so, please let me know.

    Red (#6), I don’t really understand your suggestion. In any case, we’ll be using some translations from the Pali of what I consider to be foundational Buddhist ideas (= “thought”). But thanks for your concern.

  8. Danny said

    Hi Glenn,
    I think we would all agree with what you say regarding the on-line approach; cold, terribly impersonal and lacking compared with good old-fashioned face-to-face meeting and speaking in the flesh. In the flesh is the way to go!

    But maybe their could be an alternative approach that somehow blends the two? A reading list, several weeks of cracking the books with on-line discussion and writing that culminates into a weekend meeting of folks in a real face-to-face discussion.

    I really appreciate what you are doing–very inspiring. So when I suggest the possibility of weekend seminars, in no way do I mean to belittle what I am sure already amounts to quite a sacrifice from you and the other participants. Just a thought…

  9. wtpepper said

    Once again, I would second Danny’s suggestion. I absolutely agree that “online” courses are a waste of time. They are a way for universities to “sell” credentials without all that inconvenient thinking and learning getting in the way. Nothing useful gets done in them–even the podcast or video talk must remain superficial without some kind of actual personal interaction in small groups.

    I’ve done courses, though, that meet for a day-long session, then go off to read and work individually, with just discussion boards in between, and then meet again several weeks later for another day-and-a-half of presentation and discussion. I found this approach very productive in some cases, a disaster in others. It gives sufficient time to do serious reading, and allows discussion of more difficult texts, but doesn’t work so well if the goal is intense discussion of a series of shorter texts.

    Anyway, I think the weekly meeting approach is usually best, and the in-person discussion of old-fashioned printed books is at this point radical enough as an experience to shake up participants’ thinking. The other model, with day-long sessions and time in between, can be great for those coming from a distance, or with busy weekday lives, but it would probably only work with certain topics.

What do you think?

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