Catholic Studies presents “Literature and Bioethics Fictions of Autonomy”

William Gonch, Ph.D.

The Seton Hall University Catholic Studies Program proudly announces “Catholic Literature and Bioethics: Fictions of Autonomy,” a lecture by William Gonch, Ph.D. The event will take place Wednesday, September 21 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Beck Room (Walsh Library).

About the event:

Many contemporary bioethical questions revolve around autonomy. Demands for abortion, sex reassignment surgery, surrogacy, euthanasia, and many other controversial procedures are often hinged on claims of personal and bodily autonomy, which have also been central to American popular and literary narratives. for most of our history. Indeed, America is often seen as the nation of self-reliant individuals.

The Catholic literary tradition, however, is skeptical of claims of personal autonomy. It is therefore not surprising that the Catholic Church finds itself swimming against the tide on many bioethical issues. This talk will explore how American Catholic writers have explored stories of self-reliance and interdependence to reimagine the relationship between freedom and community. In the Catholic imagination, autonomy is often a story told to conceal one’s dependence. In this lecture, Professor Gonch will argue that the exposure of hidden addiction has been a source of fruitful creative endeavors for American Catholic writers, including Flannery O’Connor, Toni Morrison and Kirstin Valdez Quade. Ultimately, he will suggest that the exploration of interdependence and the critique of autonomy are crucial for Catholics who want to participate in bioethical arguments in a way that is compelling to our fellow citizens.

About the speaker:

William Gonch, Ph.D. is a New Jersey-based writer, editor, and teacher. A lifelong lover of books, he obtained his doctorate. in English from the University of Maryland, College Park, and her Masters in Creative Writing from Temple University. Currently, he is the Cornerstone Fellow in English at the Catholic University of America. He is a scholar of American fiction and religion; he is also a lifelong enthusiast of science fiction and fantasy, and has taught university courses in ancient, medieval, and modern literature.

Dr. Gonch’s writings have appeared in publications such as The Hedgehog Review, public speech, The European Curatorand The Claremont Review of Books. He is an editor at Chrism Press, a Catholic publisher, and he has been featured as a speaker at the American Literature Association, the Conference on Christianity and Literature, the Catholic Imagination Conference, and meetings of other organizations. scholars devoted to the study of literature. . His newsletter is available at

About the Department of Catholic Studies:

The Department of Catholic Studies at Seton Hall University offers an innovative interdisciplinary study program for students of any faith who wish to deepen their knowledge of the rich intellectual tradition and living heritage of Catholicism. Combining the study of history, philosophy, theology, literature, art, sociology and other disciplines, Catholic studies focus on the Church’s dialogue with culture and meeting the world. Students interested in Catholic studies have the option of pursuing a major, minor, or certificate that complements and enhances other academic programs and areas of study at the university. For more than 20 years, the academic program and its varied activities have remained true to the Catholic mission and vision of the University. For more information, please contact Ines Murzaku, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Catholic Studies, at [email protected], or Gloria Aroneo at [email protected]

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