Grief & Belief: Talks on Love and Loss with JMU Faculty

Wednesday, September 20, 2023
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
The Golden Pony
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A Panel Discussion with Bethany Nowviskie, Anne van Leeuwen , Alan Levinovitz, Lindsey Harvell-Bowman, and Peter Fraser-Morris 

What is it to love another, in this life and beyond? When we lose the people we love, can that love somehow keep them alive? Might those we grieve be nearer than we think, just—as it were—on the other side of life? Or perhaps nothing can be held forever, not in memory nor in our hearts. Through a combination of talks and art events, this series will explore these questions through continuous conversations and considerations on the nature of grief—how we understand our grief, what we grieve, and the ways in which grief figures into our lives. 

Questions may be directed to Michael Trocchia at

Alan Levinovitz, Associate Professor of Religion 
A Talk on Grief as a Necessary Part of Being Human
“Do Daoist sages suffer grief? In one Chinese classic, the Zhuangzi, it appears as if sages have the ability to grieve briefly—or not at all—after the loss of a loved one. But then I taught this book to a student who had recently lost his father, and I had to reconsider everything I thought about grief, and Daoist sages, and how to teach.” –Alan Levinovitz

Bethany Nowviskie, Dean of JMU Libraries and Professor of English
A Talk on Ecological Grief and Memory Institutions
“Taken together, modern library and museum collections represent one vast archive of extinction. In this talk I will address how environmental mourning and climate anxiety shape memory institutions as knowledge systems — and impact the people who build and maintain them. Ecological grief, loss, and solastalgia (or a feeling of homesickness for a place we have not left, but which is changing under our feet) are new workplace hazards in an era of accelerating climate change — but they connect to a longstanding professional challenge for cultural heritage workers: how to look backwards and forward at once?”  --Bethany Nowviskie

Anne van Leeuwen, Associate Professor of Philosophy
A Talk on Language and Loss
“What do we lose when we lose a language? Writer Ágota Kristóf not only lost her native language after emigrating to Switzerland from her native Hungary, she also lost the ability to express her grief about this loss. In her autobiography, The Illiterate, she describes her attempt to master French as a life-long battle with an ‘enemy language that was ‘killing [her] mother tongue.’ Yet in this hostile and foreign language Kristóf would go on to poignantly confront the limits of language. Her Trilogy (The Notebook, The Proof, and The Third Lie) uses a narrative form stripped, as she puts it, of ‘adjectives and things that are not real, that have their origin in feelings’, and it is precisely through this terse, minimalist language replete with loss that Kristóf is able to powerfully capture an experience of grief without sentimentality.” –Anne van Leeuwen

Lindsey Harvell-Bowman, Associate Professor in the School of Communication Studies and Chair of the Institutional Review Board
A Talk on Grief, Meaning, and Authenticity
Dr. Lindsey Harvell-Bowman, an internationally recognized expert in existential psychology, will discuss the importance of grief in creating meaning in life and the role it plays in our attempts to live a life of authenticity.

Peter Fraser-Morris, Instructor of Religion
A Talk on Grief in Ancient Philosophy and Early Christianity
“The problem of loss, and the accompanying power of grief, occupied an important part in ancient philosophical discourse and practice. The loss of possessions, friends, family, and even life were regular objects of reflection and meditation. Many early Christians participated in this tradition but came to it with texts and ideas distinct from their non-Christian peers and predecessors. Particularly, the provisionality of death and the inevitability of resurrection in New Testament literature pushed Christian reflection on grief in directions distinct from ancient philosophy. In this talk, I will survey some ancient philosophical engagement with grief and then trace how this was adapted and modulated in early Christian literature.” -Peter Fraser-Morris

BE)HOLDING LOVE & LOSS An Interdisciplinary Arts and Humanities Series on Grief Grief & Belief: Talks on Love and Loss with JMU Faculty Sept. 20th 7-9pm at The Golden Pony 181 N. Main St.
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