European Humanism and Its Challenges (2017)

Call for Papers

Aulus Gellius, the Roman antiquarian from the second century AD, wrote that his contemporaries used the term humanitas with the meaning of the Greek word philanthropia, benevolence towards others, even though the masters of Latin language had previously used the noun to mark a special type of education. Even then, the word could mean both an ethical position and a particular cultural and educational model. During subsequent periods, until today, the adjective humanist was associated with these two different areas. But Gellius, as well as his predecessor Cicero, saw both meanings as closely intertwined: he considered such education as necessary to cultivate humanity (humanitas), which is both its foundation and its goal. In the following centuries, it found its expression in the conviction about the fundamental value of each individual; complexity of modern civilisation, diversity of its cultural forms and sensitivity of artistic expressions, as well as human rights and democracy, are largely the result of this process. If the value of the individual grew from continuous search for integrity as a means of discovering one’s measure, what is the present state of such humanistic attitude? And what are its consequences for education, for art, for understanding of human being, of the world, of life? It seems that recently the question about the fate of humanism has become more difficult, and perhaps more important. How to reconcile the objectivist science with the cultural values, which are rooted in the unique importance of the human person and which, stricto sensu, cannot be claimed scientifically? How come that those anthropological, cultural and educational models, which are related to the humanism of antiquity and of the renaissance, as well as to nineteenth-century neohumanism, so often limit themselves to the apologetic and moralistic discourse when faced with the pragmatist, technicist and economistic ideology?

The purpose of the symposium is to bring together scholars from different fields of humanities, arts and literature, and to investigate the present social and spiritual condition, when it sometimes seems that the role of humanistic tradition is diminishing. The papers will shed light on these challenges, discussing the role of the arts and their relevance for the world and the human person, as well as their role in the future of an open and solidarity-based democratic society.


Working languages at the symposium will be English and Slovenian, with papers presented preferably in English. Individual papers will be given 20 minutes (as well as 10 minutes for discussion). Deadline for applications is May 20th, at

Applications should include: 1. the name of the speaker, 2. the title of the paper, 3. the name and address of the affiliated institution, 4. a brief summary (up to 1500 characters). The participants will be informed by May 30th, 2017. All participants will take part in the Vilenica International Literary Festival. Select papers will be peer-reviewed and published in Primerjalna književnost (Comparative Literature), an A&HCI journal.

Vilenica International Literary Festival

The Vilenica International Literary Festival, a gathering of poets, prose writers, dramatists, essayists, and scholars, is organized by the Slovene Writers’ Association in collaboration with the Cultural Centre Vilenica.

The climax of the event is the presentation of the Vilenica International Literary Prize, awarded by the Slovene Writers’ Association in accordance with its statute to a Central European author for outstanding achievements in the field of literature and essay writing.

Previous Vilenica prize winners: Dubravka Ugrešić (2016), Jáchym Topol (2015), László Krasznahorkai (2014), Olga Tokarczuk (2013), David Albahari (2012), Mircea Cărtăarescu (2011), Dževad Karahasan (2010), Claudio Magris (2009), Andrzej Stasiuk (2008), Goran Stefanovski (2007), Miodrag Pavlović (2006), Ilma Rakusa in Karl-Markus Gauß (2005), Brigitte Kronauer (2004), Mirko Kovač (2003), Ana Blandiana (2002), Jaan Kaplinski (2001), Slavko Mihalić (2000), Erica Pedretti (1999), Péter Nádas (1998), Pavel Vilikovsky (1997), Adam Zagajewski (1996), Adolf Muschg (1995), Josip Osti (1994), Libuše Moníková (1993), Milan Kundera (1992), Zbigniew Herbert (1991), Tomas Venclova (1990), Jan Skácel (1989), Peter Eszterházy (1988), Peter Handke (1987) in Fulvio Tomizza (1986).


European Humanism and its Challenges, Call for Papers 2017 (pdf)