The Alpha of Oregon chapter of Phi Beta Kappa was honored to host Professor James O’Donnell as the 2013 Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar at the University of Oregon on January 29-30, 2013. Professor O’Donnell delivered a Public Lecture titled “What Augustine Didn’t Confess” in the Global Scholars Hall Great Room on Wednesday, January 30.
James O’Donnell is University Professor of Classics at Georgetown University. He stepped down in 2012 after ten years’ service there as provost and is spending a sabbatical year teaching himself to read again. Before coming to Georgetown, he taught for twenty-one years at the University of Pennsylvania and held visiting appointments at Johns Hopkins, the University of Washington, and Yale. He is a classicist who specializes in the history and culture of the Roman world, from 100 BCE to 600 CE, but he has written and spoken widely as well on the cultural consequences of information technologies ancient and modern. His most recent books are Avatars of the Word: From Papyrus to Cyberspace, Augustine: A New Biography, and The Ruin of the Roman Empire. Past president of the American Philological Association and a fellow of the Medieval Academy of America, O’Donnell is secretary of the board of directors of the American Council of Learned Societies and previously served on the board of the National Humanities Center.
The Confessions of Saint Augustine is the oldest autobiography in the Western world. But no autobiographer tells the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. We know enough about Augustine to fill in the gaps in his most important book, and he turns out to be more complex and interesting than we suspected. Can he still be called a saint?
College of Arts and Sciences
Ira Gaston Bequest
Oregon Humanities Center
Robert D. Clark Honors College