Course Memo

This seminar explores the multivalent concept of “kenosis,” or self-emptying, and is co-taught by Dr. Deidre Green and Dr. Devin Zuber. First appearing in Paul’s first century letter to the Phillipians concerning Christ’s incarnation—that Christ “made himself nothing” or “emptied himself” in order to be filled with the Divine—the term has since became a rich site for theorizing and contemplating broader varieties of religious and mystical experience. We will survey both the history of early Christian writings that first took up kenosis as a rich theological problematic, as well as its later instantiations in both apophatic mystical traditions (Meister Eckhart, St. John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila) and modern philosophy from the Romantic period onwards. Readings will include Søren Kiergegaard, Simone Weil, Maurice Blanchot, Maggie Nelson, Jacques Derrida. MA / PhD level; oral presentation, final research essay.