Religion Professor Adam Seligman to Speak at U.Va. Nov. 18

November 05, 2009

November 4, 2009 — The Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia will host author and scholar Adam Seligman, who will lecture on "Ritual and Sincerity: Certitude and the Other" at 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 18 at Watson Manor, located at 3 University Circle in Charlottesville.

In his lecture, Seligman will contrast how we use ritual and sincerity to frame our experiences. He argues that ritual creates imaginative "as-if" worlds that foster relationships between people. In contrast, sincerity is focused on self-realization and involves a search for wholeness and totality that rejects the ambiguity inherent in the world. This rejection of ambiguity makes sincerity potentially dangerous, as it threatens the plurality and heterogeneity of the world and our relations within it.

Seligman is professor of religion at Boston University, director of the International Summer School on Religion and Public Life and research associate at the Institute for the Study of Economic Culture. He has lived and taught at universities in the United States, Israel and Hungary, where he was a Fulbright Fellow. He lived nearly 20 years in Israel, where he was a member of Kibbutz Kerem Shalom in the early 1970s.

Backed by major grants from the Ford Foundation and Pew Charitable Trusts, he is working on the problem of religion and toleration. Part of this work is devoted to establishing school curricula for teaching tolerance from a religious perspective. His books, which have been translated into a dozen languages, include, "The Idea of Civil Society" in 1992, "The Problem of Trust" in 1997 and "Modest Claims, Dialogues and Essays on Tolerance and Tradition" in 2003.

The Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture is an interdisciplinary research center and intellectual community committed to understanding contemporary cultural change. Over the past 13 years, the institute has organized numerous lectures at which senior scholars, public intellectuals and dignitaries have made major statements on some of the most pressing issues of our time.

For information, contact Jenny Gladding, event planner at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, at 434-924-0998 or by e-mail at