2013-14 Bitar Memorial Lecture

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April 8-9, 2014

Getting from There to Here: From Modernity to Postmodernity

Dr. Merold Westphal
Dr. Keith Martel

This year′s Bitar Memorial Lecturer is Dr. Merold Westphal. Merold Westphal (Ph.D., Yale University (Woodrow Wilson Fellow); B.A., Wheaton College) is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Fordham University. He has taught at Yale, Hope College and Fordham University, with visiting positions at Juniata, Loyola (Maryland), Villanova, Fuller Seminary, and Harvard Divinity School. He has served as President of the Hegel Society of America and the Soren Kierkegaard Society, and as Executive Co-Director of the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy (SPEP). He has lectured widely in the United States and Europe as well as in China and Brazil. He is editor of the Indiana Series in the Philosophy of Religion. His books include two on Hegel, four on Kierkegaard, God, Guilt and Death, Transcendence and Self-Transcendence, Overcoming Onto-Theology, and Whose Community? Which Interpretation?, an interpretation of philosophical thinking related to biblical interpretation.

Dr. Keith Martel will serve as Respondent to Dr. Westphal's lectures. Keith Martel (M.A, Ph.D. Duquesne University; B.A., MHE, Geneva College), is Associate Professor of Humanities and Higher Education at Geneva College. In his undergraduate major in philosophy here at Geneva, he studied with the late Dr Byron Bitar. His Masters Thesis engaged the work of Dr. Westphal. As an environmental phenomenologist and professor of higher education, Keith helps students and practitioners develop a more robust sense of a place-based education including the effects of disruptive technology on the classroom. 

The Bitar Memorial Lecture Series is endowed by the William C. Kriner Family in memory of Geneva College′s beloved professor of a quarter-century, in order to continue his legacy and vision for philosophy. The Lecture was inaugurated in 2004, a year after Dr. Bitar′s untimely death. The annual Bitar Cash Prize is a gift from Mrs. Gail Bitar. The Kriner and Bitar families host the event, along with Geneva College′s Philosophy Program.

Past Bitar Lecturers include

  • 2004-05: Dr. Stephen Evans, Baylor University – “Can Love be Commanded?: Kierkegaard on the Foundations of Moral Obligation”        
  • 2005-06: Dr. Paul Helm – “John Calvin′s Big Idea”
  • 2006-07: Dr. Nicholas Wolterstorff – "Love and Justice"
  • 2007-08: Linda Zagzebski – "Self-Trust and Religious Belief"
  • 2008-09: Dr. James K.A. Smith – "A Liturgical Phenomenology for a Post-Secular Age"
  • 2009-10: R.J. Snell – "Culture of Boredom, Culture of Death"
  • 2010-11: Dr. Paul K. Moser – “Expecting a Severe God.”
  • 2011-12: Dr. Alvin Plantinga  –  “Science, Religion and Naturalism”
  • 2012-13: Dr. Nancey Murphy – "Human Nature at the Intersection of Science, Religion and Philosophy"

Find the schedule of public activities and their locations here. For additional information, contact the Philosophy Program, 724-847-6700, or email,