Rettig Lecture 2019
Fr. Bryan Norton S.J.
The Jesuit Classical Tradition: Past Perspectives, Contemporary Questions, Future Horizons
Friday November 8th, 5:00, Kennedy Auditorium, reception to follow
Why bother any more with Latin and Greek? In recent years, this question—at once educational and existential—has become increasingly commonplace, even banal. The crisis of the liberal arts and the rise of STEM, the centrifugal forces of globalization and the deconstructive readings of postmodernity: have these contemporary developments not definitively relegated classical studies to the intellectual and cultural margins?
This year’s Rettig Lecture will respond to such questions and concerns from the tradition of Jesuit education. Why did the Society of Jesus espouse the classical tradition in the first place? How has that commitment changed over time? What does Jesuit classical education look like today, and what can (or should?) that tradition look like moving forward? Can the Jesuit tradition make a distinctive contribution to classical studies in the contemporary Academy? Conversely, do the Classics have a special contribution to make to Jesuit education in the twenty-first century?
For our Rettig lecturer—a young Jesuit priest and a doctoral candidate in Classics—these questions are both pressing and personal. Fr. Norton will address them by rooting his own experience in seminal Jesuit sources, both historical and contemporary. In this way, the 2019 Rettig Lecture will serve as an important forum for Jesuit educators, students, and alumni to reflect together upon the scope and significance of classical education.