PATRISTIC, MEDIEVAL, AND RENAISSANCE CONFERENCE (PMR)
The International Patristic, Medieval and Renaissance Conference is an annual academic conference bringing together keynote speakers and scholars from around the world and across the country. This three-day event has been held since the mid-1970s and is a true tradition of scholarship.
48th International PMR
The Patristic, Medieval, and Renaissance Studies Conference (PMR) at Villanova University invites you to attend this year's international conference at The Inn at Villanova.
Friday, October 27 -
Sunday, October 29, 2023
“And We Have Beheld…”
The Visible Sacred in Theology, Art, and Culture
Patrick O’Brien Professor of Theology
University of Notre Dame
Professor of Art History
Christian traditions have long struggled with how to “see” God. Even in Paul’s description of Jesus as “the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1.15) captures a tension rather than resolves it… the Image of the Invisible. While Jewish and Islamic traditions have been more resolutely iconoclastic, each tradition seeks a language for “seeing the sacred” in one way or another. Wrestling with this tension is not just an aesthetic choice; it has implications for the theology of the community or church, the sacraments or signs, for political theology, and beyond. The PMR’s plenary theme this year will explore the tensions between the visible and the invisible in all these ways under the banner of the “visible sacred.” We will hear papers from art historians, theologians, historians, philosophers, scholars of Latin, Greek, Syriac and other vernacular literatures, from the various regions and time periods from the early Common Era up into the early modern world, all in conversation around this fundamental tensile phrase, the visible sacred.
Contact us: email@example.com | 610.519.4728
The Inn at Villanova University
GPS address: 629 County Line Rd., Radnor, PA 19087
Physical address: 601 County Line Road, Radnor, PA 19087
Train from Philadelphia:
After arriving by Amtrak (or other means) to 30th Street Station, ask an attendant to direct you to the SEPTA regional rail train platforms. Take the Paoli/Thorndale line to Villanova (station is on campus) or Radnor. Both stops are roughly one mile from The Inn at Villanova University. Car service is required to get from either station to The Inn.
Plane | Plane then train:
Philadelphia International Airport. Take the SEPTA regional rail Airport Line to 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. Then take the Paoli/Thorndale line to Villanova (station is on campus) or Radnor. Both stops are roughly one mile from The Inn at Villanova University. Car service is required to get from either station to The Inn.
Bennett Taxi Service: 610-525-1770
Make a reservation at The Inn at Villanova
Physical address: 601 County Line Rd., Radnor, PA 19087
GPS address: 629 County Line Rd., Radnor, PA 19087
A room block is held each year for the conference at a rate of $189+tx; ask the front desk. Space is very limited.
Nearest hotels to The Inn:
Radnor Hotel (8 minutes)
591 E. Lancaster Avenue
St. Davids, PA 19087
Courtyard by Marriott Devon (15 minutes)
762 Lancaster Avenue
Wayne, Pennsylvania 19087
Hampton Inn (15 minutes)
530 W Dekalb Pike #202
King of Prussia, PA 19406
Hyatt House (20 minutes)
240 Mall Blvd.
King of Prussia, PA 19406
View a list of more hotels and local dining options that are near The Inn at Villanova. Wayne is the closest town to The Inn and has many dining choices. King of Prussia is also a major hub for shopping, dining and accommodations.
We invite you to follow the PMR group site on Facebook.
Recordings of plenary addresses dating back to 2019 can be found on the PMR Studies Conference playlist. Previous themes and a direct link to each esteemed speaker's address are provided below.
2022: Through the Cross
2021: Cum Dilatasti Cor Meum: Knowledge, Affect, and the Dilation of the Heart
2020: Thought and Prayer
2019: Faith in History: Time, Narrative, History, Apocalypse
2018: The Way of Beauty
Featuring Mary Carruthers, New York University and Junius Johnson, Baylor University
2017: A Sacrifice of Praise: Liturgy, Prayer, and Hymnody at the Center of Faith and Life
Featuring Susan Ashbrook Harvey, Brown University and Margot Fassler, University of Notre Dame
2016: A Matter of Devotion: Matter and Spirit in Theory and Practice
Featuring Caroline Walker Bynum, Columbia University and Catherine Kavanagh, Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, Ireland
2015: The Scriptural Imagination
Featuring Lewis Ayres, Durham University and Vittorio Montemaggi, University of Notre Dame
2014: Visible Communion: Unity, Sanctity, Sociality
Featuring John Cavadini, University of Notre Dame and Martha G. Newman, University of Texas at Austin
2013: Deep unto Deep: Exploring Mystery, Human and Divine
Featuring Bernard McGinn, University of Chicago Divinity School and Amy Hollywood, Harvard Divinity School
2012: After Constantine: Religion, Politics, Culture, & Counterculture
Featuring Robert Louis Wilken, University of Virginia and William Klingshirn, The Catholic University of America
2011: Natura: The Splendor of These Created Things….
Featuring Richard A. Schenk, Theology Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, Graduate Theological Union and Bruce D. Marshall, Southern Methodist University
2010: Mother of Mercy: The Figure of Mary in Theology and Culture
Featuring Brian Daley, University of Notre Dame; and Rachel Fulton, University of Chicago
2009: Ora et Labora. Pray and Work
Featuring John Van Engen University of Notre Dame and Michèle Mulchahey, Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, Toronto
2008: The Angel and The Muse: Inspiration, Revelation, Prophecy
Featuring Brenda Deen Schildgen, University of California-Davis and Michael Sells, University of Chicago Divinity School
2007: Faith and the Ways of Knowing
Featuring Denys Turner, Yale University and David Burrell, University of Notre Dame
2006: Structure, Space, and Meaning: The Walls and Portals of Premodern Worlds
Featuring Annabel J. Wharton, Duke University and Richard Kieckhefer, Northwestern University
2005: Reading, Community, Identity
Featuring Brian Stock, University of Toronto and Michael A. Signer, University of Notre Dame
Villanova University has enjoyed a national reputation through its Patristic, Medieval, and Renaissance Conference (PMR) for more than 40 years. Finding its natural niche and center in philosophy and theology, but extending from there to embrace a wide variety of disciplines in the field, the PMR has established a tradition of scholarship and collegiality complementary to, rather than in competition with, the larger conferences such as Kalamazoo, the Oxford Patristics Conference, or the Medieval Academy.
The conference has met a need in the academic community for working space. According to founding director Thomas Losoncy, the conference was always intended to be a place where scholars come to roll up their sleeves, to work through new ideas, to experiment and push the envelope in their various fields. The PMR’s legacy is archived in a long-running series of published proceedings, from the mid-1970s through the 2010s, testimony to its consistent success.
More recently, we have built on the strengths of the past while stepping forward to meet the needs of 21st century scholarship. Scholarship in the study of Late Antiquity has expanded and matured as its own complex field, including but not limited to the traditional study of Patristics. Medieval and Renaissance/Reformation studies, too, have grown in complexity, where the lines between intellectual history and cultural history, between theology, philosophy, art, literature, and culture have blurred or overlapped. In addition, our post-9/11 world has made clear the necessity of sustained and rigorous study of the long and complex interrelationship between the great traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Such emergent complexity has mandated an interdisciplinary and dialogical approach that the PMR has begun to reflect. Theology and philosophy provide the centers of gravity in these conversations, but all the humanities and social science disciplines contribute essential elements to the work of scholarly discernment that will both illuminate the past and help us to understand our place among these traditions and cultures that continue to touch and shape us today.
The PMR maintains its traditional features: The conference offers an open call for papers and keeps its primary focus as a “working conference,” one in which feedback and dialogue are central, in which the great mix of disciplines and areas enriches our study. This dialogue extends into the plenary sessions, centers of gravity that draw our various conversations together. To this rich affair we add the seasoning of good food and fellowship, and we hope all will leave on Sunday both sated and with appetites whet for next year.
Our annual theme captures only part of the work we support at the PMR. We extend invitations to smaller societies or scholarly communities to gather for annual meetings, long-term research projects, or new, exploratory work. Among these, we have had a special relationship with the Boston Colloquy in Historical Theology for the last several years.