CFP: The Face and the Interface: Levinas, Teaching, and Technology

Submission deadline: June 10, 2020

Conference date(s):
July 21, 2020 - July 24, 2020

Go to the conference's page

Conference Venue:

North American Levinas Society
Colchester, United States



15th Annual Conference of the


July 21st-24th, 2020, via Remote Video

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NALS will reschedule its 2020 and 2021 summer conferences. Previous conference plans for the “Solidarity and Community” conference, hosted in Vermont, have been postponed until summer 2021. In the interim, members of the NALS Board of Directors will organize a 2020 conference to be broadcast and shared by remote video – synchronous and asynchronous. All are invited to submit proposals for our NALS 2020 video-conference. More details on conference platform and online technologies will be available soon.

2020 Organizing Committee

Brian Bergen-Aurand – University of Maryland Eastern Shore

Erik Garrett – Duquesne University, Pennsylvania

David Hansel – CNRS, Paris and SIREL, Paris and Jerusalem

Katie Kirby – St. Michael’s College, Vermont

Sol Neely – University of Alaska Southeast


“The Face and the Interface:

Levinas, Teaching, and Technology”

The COVID-19 pandemic has engendered a great deal of economic and political turmoil around the world, not the least of which involves necessary campus closures across the globe. As communities and institutions struggle to adapt to the critical exigencies of this moment, the pandemic reveals a number of longstanding inequities and injustices that exacerbate the global crisis. From its beginning, nearly 15 years ago, the North American Levinas Society has postured itself as an organization concerned, first, with opening ecumenical pedagogical spaces wherein we take up the meaning of Levinas’ “ethics as first philosophy” across generations. A critical mission for NALS is to bring young Levinas scholars together with established scholars in efforts to effectuate the ethical across political, economic, and cultural horizons. In this moment of pandemic, we draw from this mission to organize a virtual conference on the theme, “The Face and the Interface: Levinas, Teaching, and Technology.”

As always, NALS welcomes submissions on all topics relevant to the work of Emmanuel Levinas, but we especially encourage topics that address this conference theme—including, but not limited to, the following topics and questions:

  • The ethical relation in cyberspace: How do the exigencies of cyberspace transform ethical relating?
  • Video conferencing and the Face: How do video conferencing technologies affect our encounters with “the face” of the other?
  • Proximity at a distance: What possibilities for ethical proximity are afforded or impeded by remote technologies?
  • Sociality and separation: How might Levinas’ “phenomenology of sociality” help us respond to the pandemic in pedagogically edifying ways?
  • Pedagogy and technology: What approaches to teaching Levinas by remote might we adopt? Alternatively, how does Levinas inform your pedagogy through this pandemic?
  • The question of progress: Especially at the intersection of face and interface, or teaching and technology, how are narratives of progress or histories of this moment being shaped?
  • Privacy and surveillance: Levinas writes about the need to afford the other their secrecy (“Secrecy and Freedom”). In what ways do online technologies and digital platforms inhibit the possibility of privacy and secrecy? What does this mean for thinking about totality and totalitarianism?
  • Presence and absence: How do we negotiate shifting expectations for being present? In the light of the face of the other, how are notions of “absence” changing? In digital platforms built on models of representation, how might we account for the diachronic?
  • The private life and the public life after confinement:  What has confinement or quarantine taught us that might illuminate Levinas’ ideas about the self?  About sociality?  About ethics? 

These questions only get us started, and we invite you to generate and propose your own concerns. The online platform we adopt for this virtual conference is still being determined by the organizing committee.


All proposals are due June 10th, 2020: Please prepare materials for anonymous review and send them via email attachment to conference co-host, Katie Kirby (, with the subject “NALS Remote 2020 Proposal." Submissions will be acknowledged, and notifications of acceptance will be sent out by June 20th, 2020, along with information on conference registration. 

  • Individual Paper Proposals should be 200–300 words for a 15–20 minute presentation.
  • Panel Proposals should be 400 words for 75–90 minute panel sessions. Please include on separate cover the session title and name of organizer or panel chair, along with participants’ names, institutional affiliations, disciplines or departments.

Direct all inquiries concerning the conference to co-host, Katie Kirby ( 

General questions regarding the Society should be directed to Erik Garrett, NALS President ( or Dara Hill, NALS Executive Secretary (

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