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Levinas Study Societies

Société internationale de recherches Emmanuel Levinas
(SIREL, Paris)

International Conference: "Readings of Difficult Freedom" July 5-9, 2010 | Toulouse, France

Société internationale de recherches Emmanuel Levinas (SIREL, Paris)
North American Levinas Society (NALS, USA)

First published in 1963, with a second edition in 1976, Difficile Liberté, Essais sur le judaïsme is considered Levinas' most accessible book and an excellent introduction to his work. This collection of essays, which appeared in a variety of journals (L'arche, Information juive, L'esprit, Evidences, etc.) reflects the society, culture and philosophy of France from the 1950s to the 1970s. While closely linked to this era (end of World War II, the discovery of the horror of the concentration camps, Stalinism, the founding of the State of Israel) Difficile Liberté is by no means a collection of circumstantial writings.
In Difficile Liberté Levinas defines post-Holocaust Judaism, and sets out the requirements and need for Jewish thought and education in an authentic but critical dialogue with modern society. These considerations are frequently interspersed with references to writers and thinkers who influenced Levinas such as Claudel, Heidegger, Hegel, Spinoza, S. Weil, Gordin and Rosenzweig, but more often to sacred texts, the Bible and the words of the Sages of Israel which Levinas continually emphasized the need to study. Does Levinas' modernity paradoxically lie in his appeal to Jews to return to these old "worm-eaten tractates" ("the Jew of the Talmud should take precedence over the Jew of the Psalms")? These articles are still innovative, sharp, concise and overarching; the style is sometimes lyrical ? Levinas rarely wrote in such a strident, argumentative way, blending conviction and stupefaction. The key to what unites Levinas' work ? the link between his philosophical writings and his specifically Jewish dimension ? may just be found in Difficile LIberté.
Beyond the obligatory analysis of the title (taken from the last few words of the article "Education and Prayer") this conference aims not only to place the essays in Difficult Freedom in their historical context and within the trajectory of Levinas' thought, but more importantly to examine them afresh ? with the wonderment and questions they still elicit today. Diachronic and synchronic analyses of the articles in Difficle Liberté will help situate them with respect to Levinas' other works. Issues such as the following could be explored:
Phenomenology, ethics, the Holocaust, Israel, the Talmudic Readings, Levinas' views of science and technology, his relationship to Heidegger, Rozensweig, Bergson, French philosophers and writers, Levinas' relationship to Christianity, Levinas the educator, etc...
This international conference is an initiative of the Société internationale de Recherches Emmanuel Levinas (SIREL, Paris, ,, and the North American Levinas Society (Purdue, USA, The conference will host participants from all over the world, with 120 projected presentations. Priority will be given to students and young researchers. The proceedings will be published (articles selected by the editorial committee). If funding permits, some financial aid may be made available, in particular to young researchers.

1. On or before September 30, 2009: submission of a 500-word abstract (talks will be 20 minutes, in French or in English) and a short bio-bibliography of the author (s).
2. On or before November 15, 2009: notification, based on the decision of the scientific committee.
3. February 2010: publication of conference program.
all submissions (preferably as Microsoft Word files) and questions concerning the conference should be sent electronically to:

mercredi 3 juin 2009

Colloque International : ?Lectures de Difficile Liberté? 5-9 Juillet 2010 | Toulouse, France


Paru en 1963, réédité en 1976, Difficile Liberté, Essais sur le judaïsme est apparemment l?ouvrage le plus accessible de Levinas et une excellente introduction à son ?uvre. Ces textes publiés dans de nombreuses revues (L?Arche, Information juive, Esprit, Évidences, etc.) sont un miroir de la société, de la culture et de la philosophie de la France des années 1950-1970. Bien que liés à la période dans laquelle ils s?inscrivent (fin de la Seconde Guerre mondiale, découverte de l?horreur des camps, stalinisme, création de l'État d'Israël) ces articles ne se réduisent nullement à être des écrits de circonstance.
Dans Difficile Liberté, Levinas s?efforce de concevoir le judaïsme après la Shoah, d?envisager les conditions et la nécessité d?une réflexion et d?un enseignement juifs, dans un dialogue réel mais critique avec une société moderne. Dans ces chemins de pensée, on croise fréquemment des écrivains et des philosophes qui accompagnent Levinas : Claudel, Heidegger, Hegel, Spinoza, S. Weil, Gordin et Rosenzweig, mais plus encore les textes saints, la Bible et les paroles des Maîtres d?Israël dont Levinas ne cesse d?exiger l?étude. La modernité de Levinas serait-elle, paradoxalement, l?injonction adressée aux Juifs d?un retour aux vieux « traités vermoulus » (« le Juif du Talmud doit prendre le pas sur le Juif des Psaumes ») ? L?écriture de ces articles nous surprend encore ; écriture vive, ramassée, synthétique, aux accents parfois lyriques, Levinas usa rarement d?une telle écriture, aussi violente, polémique, alliant conviction et stupéfaction. Et il n?est pas vain de se demander si la clef même de l'unité de l'?uvre de Levinas - le lien entre sa dimension philosophique et sa dimension spécifiquement juive - n'est pas à chercher dans Difficile Liberté.
Au-delà du nécessaire questionnement du titre de l??uvre (emprunté aux derniers mots de l?article « Éducation et Prière »), l?objectif de ce colloque est non seulement de réinscrire les textes de Difficile Liberté dans leur contexte historique, philosophique, et dans le cadre de l?évolution de la pensée de Levinas, mais plus encore, de les entendre à nouveau dans l?étonnement et le questionnement qu?ils suscitent encore aujourd?hui. On proposera des lectures synchroniques ou diachroniques qui susciteront des mises en perspective des articles de Difficile Liberté avec d?autres ?uvres de Levinas, on pourra notamment envisager des problématiques portant sur :

la phénoménologie, l?éthique, la Shoah, Israël, les lectures talmudiques, la conception levinassienne de la science et de la technique, le rapport de Levinas à Heidegger, à Rosenzweig, à Bergson, sa relation avec les philosophes et écrivains français, le rapport de Levinas au christianisme, Levinas éducateur, etc.

Ce colloque international est organisé à l'initiative de la Société internationale de Recherches Emmanuel Levinas (SIREL, Paris, et de la North American Levinas Society (Purdue, USA, Il accueillera des participants venant du monde entier et comportera environ 120 communications. Une priorité sera accordée aux étudiants et jeunes chercheurs. Les actes du colloque seront publiés (articles sélectionnés par un comité de lecture). Suivant les possibilités budgétaires, une aide financière pourra être octroyée à certains participants, en particulier aux jeunes chercheurs.

Soumission des propositions de communication et calendrier

1. Avant le 30 septembre 2009 : soumission d'un résumé de 500 mots décrivant le contenu de la communication (durée : 30 minutes, français ou anglais), accompagné d?une brève bio-bibliographie.
2. 15 novembre 2009 : notification de l?acceptation des communications après lecture par le comité scientifique.
3. Février 2010 : publication du programme du colloque.

Soumissions en fichier attaché (Microsoft Word, de préférence) et questions concernant le colloque :
Appel à communication

Philosophy and its Others

2009 Conference Registration Form

The 2009 NALS conference registration form is available for download. Forms can be faxed or mailed once completed. Also, please make sure to renew your membership in addition to completing your registration; our Paypal links should be up and running soon--thanks for your support and your patience!

The Fourth Annual Conference and Meeting of the North American Levinas Society

June 28-30, 2009
University of Toronto (Ontario, Canada)
Submission Deadline: April 13th, 2009

Conference Announcement and Call for Papers

Celebrating the fourth anniversary of our founding, the North American Levinas Society continues in our aim to build interest and promote dialogue around the important work of Emmanuel Levinas. Last year?s conference at Seattle University was a tremendous success, again bringing Levinas? family from Paris and Jerusalem together with young scholars from across the world to forge important relationships and foster respectful discussion around the question of the sacred, the holy, and the ethical.

This year, the Society broadens its international scope, as we organize our first meeting and conference outside of the United States. We are pleased to announce our 2009 annual meeting and conference, to be hosted by the University of Toronto (Ontario, Canada). Confirmed plenary speakers include Dana Hollander (McMaster University) and James Hatley (Salisbury University).

The North American Levinas Society invites submissions of individual paper proposals and panel proposals for the fourth annual meeting and conference to be held June 28-30, 2009. While we will organize the conference around the broad theme of ?Philosophy and Its Others,? we will consider proposals for paper and panels on any topic related to Levinas in an effort to draw the widest array of interests.

Especially in the Continental traditions, Levinas? work is integral to a serious and sober examination of the history of philosophy and its priorities, blindnesses, insights, inner tensions, and possibilities. We pose this broad theme at a time when certain modes of rationality continue to prop up structures of economic inequality, perpetual war, and uncertainty. Given the current state of global economic and political relations, how must philosophy orient itself to help effect a healing and mending of the world? What is the relationship between philosophy and hope, activism, and reconciliation? We might begin by asking questions about Levinas? difficult relationship with philosophy. How has the discipline and history of philosophy affected Levinas? thought, and how has Levinas impacted the discipline and history of philosophy? How has Levinas? philosophical critique of ?the tradition? been received and appropriated by other domains of inquiry, such as religious studies, Jewish studies, political science, women?s studies, gender studies, sociology, history, performance and media studies, race theory, legal studies and jurisprudence, literature, cultural studies, disability studies, environmental and ecology studies, medicine, and others? How has Levinas? reception and application in these various fields in turn affected the discipline of philosophy?

Certainly, these are only a few questions regarding ?Philosophy and Its Others? broadly posed, but it is clear that such questions open our own work to a more difficult, and perhaps edifying, scrutiny. We are also interested in receiving panels that address the relation between philosophy, the ethical, current political affairs, community, justice, and pedagogy.


  • Individual paper proposals: Individual abstracts, prepared for blind review, should be 500 words outlining a 20-minute presentation. Accepted papers will be organized into panels of two or three presentations.
  • Panel proposal: Panel proposals, consisting of 2-3 speakers, should be 1000 words for a 75-minute session. Please include the session title, name of organizer, institutional affiliations, discipline or department, along with the chair?s name and participants? names in addition to 250 word abstracts detailing the focus of each paper. Prepare panel proposals for blind review as well.

Please send materials via email attachment (preferably Microsoft Word) to:

If you have questions regarding the Society or the conference, please send inquiries to

Past Conference Information

Third Annual Conference and Meeting: "Levinas and the Sacred"

August 31-September 2, 2008 | Seattle University | Call for Papers

Electronic Conference Registration is now available for our 3rd annual meeting

Second Annual Levinas Society Conference

June 10-12, 2007
Purdue University

We are especially excited to announce the attendance of some members of Levinas? family at the 2007 conference. David Hansel, George Hansel, Joelle Hansel, and Simone (Levinas) Hansel will all deliver plenary presentations. We are additionally very pleased to announce that George Kunz, fitting with the theme of Levinas and community, will give a plenary on Levinas's inspiration for understanding psychopathology and psychotherapy; Professor Kunz?s work is proving integral to developing new ways of concretely applying Levinas? work toward issues of ethics and social justice.

If you have questions regarding the Society or the conference, please send inquiries to secretary at


We wish to let you know of a call for papers announced at the 2009 NALS Conference on behalf of an independent group of scholars bringing together articles for an upcoming publication:
Levinas and Asian Thought
Edited by: Leah Kalmanson, Frank Garrett, and Sarah Mattice 
Please inquire with Leah Kalmanson at 
The deadline for submission is March 1, 2010. Please send submissions, prepared for blind review, to Leah Kalmanson at All submissions should follow Chicago style and should not exceed 6,000 words. Please include, as a separate attachment, an abstract of approximately 250 words.

Recent Events Co-Sponsored by LELF

We are in the process of uploading information from recent presentations and discussions.

Information about some events can be found by clicking on the links below:

Simon Critchley @ The New York Society for Ethical Culture (NYSEC), 10 November 2008: Can the Philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas Change Your Life?

Bernard-Henri Levy on the heritage of Emmanuel Levinas
New York University, 9 May 2006

Renewing the Colloque: Levinasian Talmudic Readings @ the Center for Jewish History, 11 September 2008
One Hundred Years With Emmanuel Levinas, 7 December 2006, CJH

Hangzhou International Conference on Emmanuel Levinas

Centennial Conference on Levinas and Law
McGill University Law School, 11-13 September 2006

A Century with Levinas
"My Place in the Sun" Levinas Today
University of Queensland, 30 June - 1 July 2006

Some of the other conferences can be found through PHILWEB