Plenary Speakers

James Alison, Independent scholar

A Catholic theologian from the United Kingdom who currently lives in Brazil and gives lectures internationally, Alison is a Board Member for both the Colloquium on Violence and Religion and Imitatio, Inc. His many books include Knowing Jesus (1994), Raising Abel: The Recovery of Eschatological Imagination (1996), The Joy of Being Wrong: Original Sin through Easter Eyes (1998), and Faith beyond Resentment: Fragments Catholic and Gay (2001), On Being Liked (2004), and Undergoing God: Dispatches from the Scene of a Break-In (2006).

Kraig Beyerlein, University of Notre Dame

Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame, Beyerlein is a faculty fellow at the Center for the Study of Religion and Society. He engages in research in the area of collective behavior, social movements, and social networks. He has published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.

Margaret F. Brinig, University of Notre Dame

Holding the Fitz Duda Family Chair in Law at the University of Notre Dame, Margaret F. Brinig (J.D., Seton Hall) is a distinguished professor of family law and the associate dean for faculty research. Author of over seventy articles and book chapters and editor of two collections, Brinig is also the author of five books: two casebooks on family law and quantitative methods for lawyers, respectively; a handbook for Virginia family lawyers; From Contract to Covenant: Beyond the Law and Economics of the Family (Harvard UP, 2000); and Law, Family, and Community: Supporting the Covenant (U of Chicago Press, 2010). She will address the Colloquium on Violence and Religion on topics discussed in her newly published book, the role of mimetics in families (Chapter Five) and the scapegoating of the disabled (Chapter Six).

Erika Doss, University of Notre Dame

Chair of the Department of American Studies, noted art historian Erika Doss is the author of five books: Burton, Pollock, and the Politics of Modernism: From Regionalism to Abstract Expressionism (U of Chicago Press, 1991), Spirit Poles and Flying Pigs: Public Art and Cultural Democracy in American Communities (Smithsonian, 1995), Elvis Culture: Fans, Faith, and Image (UP of Kansas, 1999), Twentieth Century American Art (Oxford UP, 2002), and Memorial Mania: Self, Nation, and the Culture of Commemoration in Contemporary America (forthcoming 2010). She will address the Colloquium on Violence and Religion on the topic of lynching memorials. Interested in the representations of religious faith, trauma, and commemoration, she is currently at work on a book entitled Picturing Faith: Twentieth-Century American Artist and Issues of Religion

Jean-Pierre Dupuy, Stanford University

Professor of French and political science at Stanford University, Dupuy is also professor
emeritus of social and political philosophy at the Ecole Polytechnique, Paris, a member of the French Academy of Technology, and the director of research of Imitatio, Inc., a new foundation directed to the discussion and dissemination of René Girard’s mimetic theory. His most recent work deals with the topic of catastrophe.

Georges Enderle, University of Notre Dame

John T. Ryan Professor of International Business, Enderle conducts research on the ethics
of globalization, wealth creation, and corporate responsibilities, with a view on developments in China. He holds degrees in Philosophy and Theology, as well as a Ph.D. in ethics (University of St. Gallen, Switzerland) and a Ph.D. in economics (University of Fribourg, Switzerland).

Wilhelm Guggenberger, University of Innsbruck

A moral theologian at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, Guggenberger specializes in business ethics, He is the author of Der List der Dinge. Sackgassen der Wirtschlaftsethik in einer functional differenzierten Gesellschaft (2007), in which he approaches the global business economy from the perspective of mimetic theory.

Sandor Goodhart, Purdue University

A student of René Girard and former President of COV&R, Goodhart directs the interdisciplinary program in Classics at Purdue University, where he is Associate Professor of English. An expert on modern Jewish thought, especially the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas, he has published many articles on literature and critical theory. His book, Sacrificing Commentary: Reading the End of Literature (1996), employs mimetic theory to describe the complex relationship between literature and literary theory. He is the editor of Reading Stephen Sondheim: A Collection of Critical Essays and the co-editor (with Jorgen Jorgensen,Thomas Ryba, and James G. Williams) of For Rene Girard: Essays in Truth and Friendship (2009).

George Godfrey, Haskell Indian Nations University

A retired administrator and professor of history at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas, Godfrey is a member of the Citizen Band of Potawatomi. He has taken a leadership role in the Potawatomi Trail of Death Association, which sponsors a yearly commemoration of the forced removal of members of the Potawatomi tribe from Indiana to Kansas in 1838.

William A. Johnsen, Michigan State University

Professor of English at Michigan State University, Johnsen serves on the Boards of
Imitatio, Inc. and COV&R. He is the editor of Contagion: Journal of Violence, Mimesis, and Culture and the general editor of Studies in Violence, Mimesis, and Culture, a book series he inaugurated at Michigan State University Press. Johnsen is the author of many articles and books on British literature, including Violence and Modernism: Ibsen, Joyce, and Woolf (2003).

James W. Jones, Rutgers University

The holder of doctorates in clinical psychology (Rutgers University) and Religious Studies (Brown University), Jones is Professor of Religion at Rutgers University. The author of ten books, he is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the winner of its William Bier Award in psychology of religion. A Senior Research Fellow at the Center on Terrorism at John Jay College, New York, he most recently authored Terror and Transformation: The Ambiguity of Religion in Psychoanalytic Perspective (Brunner-Routledge, 2002) and Blood That Cries Out from the Earth: The Psychology of Religious Terrorism (Oxford UP, 2008).

Rich Meyer, Independent Scholar, Farmer, and Peace Activist

On the 150th anniversary of the Trail of Death (1988) Rich Meyer preached a sermon at First Mennonite in Indianapolis on the forced removal of the Potawatomi Indians from Indiana. He continued with research and contacts from that sermon preparation, leading high school field trips to sites in the Potawatomi forced removal story, and participating in the retracing of the Trail of Death in September 2008. His articles include “Why Don’t We Tell the Beginning of the Story?” Mennonite Historical Bulletin (July 1999). From 1997 to the present, Meyer has been a reservist or staff member for Christian Peacemaker Teams. Most of his work has been in Israel/Palestine. In 2004 Meyer lectured in Korea and Japan on “The Weakness of Armies: lessons from Israel and Iraq.” Meyer worked in Lesotho with Mennonite Central Committee from 1981-87. In 2002 he and Brenda Meyer co-authored Conflict Studies for Lesotho, sixteen lessons about conflict transformation for Basotho high school students. Farming, auto mechanics and home repair fill most of his time, with a bit of square dance calling for fun.

Susan L. Mizruchi, Boston University

Author of The Science of Sacrifice: American Literature and Modern Social Theory (Princeton UP, 1998), Becoming Multicultural: Culture, Economy, and the Novel, 1860-1920 (Camrbidge UP, 2005), The Rise of Multicultural America (North Carolina UP, 2008), and the editor of Religion and Cultural Studies (Princeton UP, 2001), Susan Mizruchi’s many publications at the intersection of social, religious, and literary studies make her an ideal speaker in the distinguished Raymund Schwager, S.J., Memorial Lecture Series. She is the recipient of many other academic honors, including the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship (2001-2002) and the Boston University Humanities Foundation Senior Fellowship (2008-2009).

Norma C. Moruzzi, University of Illinois in Chicago

Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Norma Moruzzi (Ph.D., Johns Hopkins U, 1990) studies the politics of social identity, especially at the intersections of gender and Jewish or Islamic identity. Her book, Speaking through the Mask: Hannah Arendt and the Politics of Social Identity (Cornell UP, 2000), won the 2002 Gradiva Book Award from the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis. She has collaborated on a documentary video on Palestinian Americans. Since 1995 she has travelled frequently to Iran for field work on her work-in-progress on the changing roles of Iranian women. She will address the Colloquium on the reception of Hannah Arendt’s theory of violence in contemporary Iran.

Steven M. Nolt, Goshen College

Professor of History at Goshen College, Steven M. Nolt (Ph.D., U of Notre Dame, 1998), is the author or co-author of nine books, including Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy (Jossey-Bass, 2007), Mennonites, Amish, and the American Civil War (Johns Hopkins UP, 2007), Plain Diversity: Amish Cultures and Identities (Johns Hopkins, 2007), An Amish Patchwork: Indiana’s Old Orders in the Modern World (Indiana UP, 2005), and Amish Enterprise: From Plows to Profits (Johns Hopkins, 2004). He will address the Colloquium on Violence and Religion on the topic of the Amish response to violence, as exemplified in a gunman’s killing of five Amish children in a one-room schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, in 2006.

Cyril O’Regan, University of Notre Dame

Catherine F. Huisking Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, Cyril O’Regan (Ph.D., Yale U, 1989) works at the intersections of theology, religion, philosophy, and literature. Author of The Heterodox Hegel (SUNY, 1994), O’Regan is writing a seven-volume series on Gnosticism in Modernity, two volumes of which have appeared: Gnostic Return in Modernity (SUNY, 2001) and Gnostic Apocalypse: Jacob Boehme’s Haunted Narrative (SUNY, 2002). Two more books in this series—on Hegel and Heidegger, respectively—are nearing completion. His most recent book is Theology and the Spaces of Apocalyptic (Père Marquette Lecture in Theology, Marquette UP, 2009). He will address the Colloquium on Violence and Religion on contemporary apocalypticism, including that of Jacques Derrida and René Girard.

Wolfgang Palaver, University of Innsbruck

Professor of Catholic Social Thought, Palaver is chair of the Institute for Systematic
Theology at the University of Innsbruck, Austria. President of the Colloquium on Violence and Religion and a member of the Board of Advisors for Imitatio, Inc., he has written articles and books on Thomas Hobbes, Carl Schmitt, and the relationship between religion and violence. His most recent books are René Girards mimetische Theorie (3rd ed., 2008), Passions in Economy, Politics, and the Media (ed. with P. Steinmar-Pösel, 2005), Aufgeklärte Apokalyptik (ed. With A. Exenberger and K. Stöckl, 2007), and Westliche Moderne: Christentum und Islam (ed. With R. Siebenrock and D. Regensburger, 2008).

Vern Neufeld Redekop, St. Paul University

Director of the Program in Conflict Studies at St. Paul University in Ottawa, Canada, and former President of the Canadian Institute for Conflict Resolution (CICR), Redekop has conducted seminars in conflict resolution in countries worldwide, from Bosnia to Taiwan. A Mennonite and a long-time member of the Colloquium on Violence and Religion, Redekop is the author of From Violence to Blessing: How an Understanding of Deep-Rooted Conflict Can Open Paths to Reconciliation (2002). In that book he analyzes, in particular, the Oka/Kanehsatà:ke Crisis of 1990 between the Mohawk community and the Municipality of Oka.

Martha Reineke, University of Northern Iowa

Professor of Religion at the University of Northern Iowa, where she also teaches in
Women’s and Gender Studies, Reineke is the author of Sacrificed Lives: Kristeva on Women and Violence (1997). Currently at work on a book on Girard and gender, she serves on the COV&R Advisory Board and is its official liaison to the American Academy of Religion.

Keith Ross, Raven Foundation

D. Keith Ross Jr. has been involved in the financial markets for 34 years. He began his career as an options analyst in New York, ran his own trading company during the 1980s, and was a floor trader on the Chicago Board of Options Exchange when he made the transition to electronic trading. He joined Getco, LLC in 2000 and as CEO from 2002-05 supervised Getco’s growth from a small company to a significant liquidity provider in stocks, bonds, options and currencies worldwide.
Since 2005 Keith has been the Chief Executive Officer of PDQ Enterprises LLC, which is the owner of PDQ ATS, a broker dealer and matching platform for stocks. PDQ ATS launched its trading platform a year ago and currently offers the only electronic auction process for stock trading (see Keith is also currently the managing partner of Advisor Exchange, LLC a software company that provides financial aggregation for advisors and their clients.
In 2007, Keith and his wife, Suzanne, founded the Raven Foundation, a not-for-profit educational foundation dedicated to increasing awareness of mimetic theory among non-academic audiences. He is an executive board member and Council Commissioner of the Northeast Illinois Council of the Boy Scouts of America, is an active member in the First Congregational Church of Wilmette, a supporter of Theology and Peace and serves as the treasurer of COV&R.
Keith is a graduate of Princeton University and lives in Glenview, IL with his wife Suzanne.

Thomas Ryba, University of Notre Dame and Purdue University

Thomas Ryba is currently Vice President of the World Phenomenology Institute. He earned his Ph.D. in the History and Literature of Religions from Northwestern University. The Notre Dame theologian-in-residence at the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Center since 1990, he directs the Notre Dame M.A. satellite program there and also teaches courses in Religious Studies at Purdue University. Author of The Essence of Phenomenology and Its Meaning for the Scientific Study of Religion (1991), Dr. Ryba has an international reputation for his work on the phenomenology of religion, having published over forty articles on theology, philosophical theology, and theories of religion. The principal editor of a festschrift in honor of Edmund Perry, The Comity and Grace of Method (2004), Dr. Ryba was the North American editor (2004-2007) for the journal Religion. He is a co-editor (with Sandor Goodhart, Jorgen Jorgensen, and James G. Williams) of For René Girard: Essays in Friendship and Truth (2009).

Charles Selengut, Drew University

Charles Selengut is professor of Sociology and of Religious Studies at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. He is the author of many scholarly articles on the rise of fundamentalism and New Religious Movements in the Middle East that foresaw early on the advent and intensity of the current strife in Israel and around the globe. Among his latest works are Sacred Fury: Understanding Religious Violence(2004), Jewish Identity in the Post Modern Ageand__The Jewish-Muslim Encounter__, based on an international conference he organized in Europe, which brought together scholars from divergent branches of these faiths face-to-face. Dr. Selengut was the recipient of an NEH Fellowship at Harvard University and is currently conducting research for a study on apocalyptic Messianism in Israel and the USA. He has spoken in the past at meetings of the Colloquium on Violence and Religion.

Tobin Siebers, University of Michigan

V. L. Parrington Collegiate Professor Tobin Siebers is the author of over fifty articles and thirteen books including Disability Aesthetics (University of Michigan Press, 2010), Disability Theory (U of Michigan Press, 2008), The Body Aesthetic: From the Fine Arts of Body Modification (U of Michigan Press, 2000), Among Men (U of Nebraska Press, 1999), The Subject and Other Subjects: On Ethical, Aesthetic, and Political Identity (U of Michigan Press, 1994), and Religion and the Authority of the Past (U of Michigan, 1993). A long-time member of the Colloquium on Violence and Religion and a former student of René Girard at Johns Hopkins University, Siebers is the founding figure in the interdisciplinary field of disability studies.

Mechal Sobel, Haifa University

A graduate of Boston University, Mechal Sobel is Director of the Graduate Program in American Studies at the University of Haifa, Israel. She is the author of The World They Made Together: Black and White Values in Eighteen-Century Virginia (Princeton UP, 1989) and Teach Me Dreams: The Search for Self in the Revolutionary Era (Princeton UP, 2000), and Trabelin’ On: The Slave Journey to an Afro-Baptist Faith (Princeton UP, 1988), as well as co-editor of Through a Glass Darkly: Reflections on Personal Identity in Early America (UNC Press, 1997). She will address the Colloquium on Violence and Religion on the subject of her most recent book, Painting a Hidden Life: The Art of Bill Traylor (LSU Press, 2009), in which she argues that the paintings of the former African-American slave, Bill Traylor, encode a call for retribution in response to acts of lynching.

Willard M. Swartley, Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary

Emeritus Professor of New Testament and a member of the Colloquium on Violence and
Religion, Swartley has served as Director of the Institute of Mennonite Studies. He is the editor of Violence Renounced: René Girard, Biblical Studies, and Peacemaking (2000) and the author of three books: Slavery, Sabbath, War, and Women: Case Studies in Biblical Interpretation (1983), Send Forth Your Light: A Vision for Peace, mission, and Worship (2007), and Homosexuality: Biblical Interpretation and Moral Discernment (2003).

Peter Andreas Thiel, Founder and President of Clarium

Peter Thiel earned a B.A. in philosophy from Stanford University in 1989 and a J.D. from Stanford Law School in 1992. After Stanford, he began his career in law and finance. In 1998, he co-founded and led PayPal, the Internat payments company that now has 81 million active financial accounts. After selling PayPal to eBay in 2002, he founded Clarium, a global macro fund. In 2004, he made the first outside investments in Facebo9ok, the social networking hub that now has half a billion active members. He also serves on its board. In 2005, he co-founded the Founders Fund, a venture capital fund. He has helped launch dozens of new technology companies, such as LinkedIn, Causes, Quantcast, and SpaceX. He also promotes better health through investments in innovative companies like Halcyon Molecular, Pathway Genomics, Navia Systems, and Collaborative Drug Discovery, and by funding the rejunvenation research of Drs. Cynthia Kenyon and Aubrey de Grey. He occasionally teaches on globalization and sovereignty at Stanford and serves on the board of overseers of the Hoover Institute. Along with Robert Hamerton-Kelly and René Girard, he co-founded Imitatio,an educational organization that advances mimetic theory. His articles have appeared in Policy Review, First Things, and the Wall Street Journal.

Henry Weinfield, University of Notre Dame

A poet, translator, and literary scholar, Professor Weinfield teaches in the Program of Liberal Studies at the University of Notre Dame. His literary criticism includes The Poet without a Name: Gray’s Elegy and the Problem of History (1991) and The Music of Thought in the Poetry of George Oppen and William Bronk (2009). His published poetry and translations of poetry include The Collected Poems of Stéphane Mallarmé (1995), The Sorrows of Eros and Other Poems (1999), Hesiod’s Theogony and Works and Days (with Catherine Schlegel, 2006), and Without Mythologies: New and Selected Poems and Translations (2008).

James G. Williams, Syracuse University

Professor emeritus of religion at Syracuse University, Williams is the author of The Bible, Violence, and the Sacred, the editor of The Girard Reader, and the translator into English of books by René Girard and Raymund Schwager, S.J. The initial organizer of the Colloquium on Violence and Religion and its historian, he served as COV&R’s executive secretary from 1990-1998.

Rhys Williams, Loyola University of Chicago

Current President of the Association for the Sociology of Religion (2009-2010), Director of the McNamara Center for the Social Study of Religion, Chair of the Department of Sociology at Loyola University, and former editor of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion (2003-2007), Rhys Williams is an eminent sociologist of religion whose research focuses on the intersections between sociology, religious studies, and political science. The author of over fifty scholarly articles and book chapters, he is also the author or editor of five books, including Navigating to Faith: Organizing Identity among Christian, Muslim, and Hindu Youth (forthcoming Rutgers UP), Promise Keepers and the New Masculinity: Private Lives and Public Morality (Lexington Books, 2001), Sacred Companies: Organizational Aspects of Religion and Religious Aspects of Organizations (Oxford UP, 1998), Cultural Wars in American Politics: Critical Reviews of a Popular Myth (Aldine de Gruyter, 1997), and A Bridging of Faiths: Religion and Politics in a New England City (Princeton UP, 1992).

Conference Contacts

Margaret Pfeil at or
Ann W. Astell at

115 McKenna Hall
voice (574) 631-6691
fax (574) 631-8083