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Simone Weil and the Poetry of Conversion

A lecture by Emily King ’19 (University of Chicago)

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Simone Weil and the Poetry of Conversion
Simone Weil and the Poetry of Conversion

Time & Location

Jun 18, 2020, 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM PDT


About the Event

“With a higher quality of attention, our reading discovers gravity itself” –Simone Weil

Once described by Camus as “the only great spirit of our times,” the French philosopher Simone Weil (1909-1943) is experiencing a scholarly revival today for her insights on metaphysics and politics, notably in Gravity and Grace, Waiting for God, and The Need for Roots. Though she refrained from formal baptism, her writings and her life undeniably involve a turning toward God. An admirer of Plato, Weil moreover held that the experience of reading poetry, with its focus on beauty, form, and restraint, is strikingly reflective of spiritual conversion. In this seminar, we will examine Weil’s account of her conversion in Waiting for God, particularly as it relates to her understanding of poetry and attention.  This is the first event in Zephyr's summer of poetry and theology. Suggested Readings

  1. Simone Weil, Letter IV “Spiritual Autobiography,” Waiting for God (Harper Perennial), pages 61-83.
  2. Simone Weil, “Reflections on the Right Use of School Studies with a View to the Love of God,” Waiting for God (Harper Perennial), pages 105-116. 

About the Speaker Emily King is a Summer Fellow at the Zephyr Institute, and an incoming graduate student at the University of Chicago Divinity School, where she was awarded the Elsa Marty Fellowship in Ministry. She recently graduated from Stanford University with a B.A.H. in English. She also studied literature and philosophy at the University of Oxford. At Stanford, she was awarded the Robert M. Golden Medal for Excellence in the Humanities for her honors thesis “Poetry as Decreation: Impersonality and Grace in T.S. Eliot and Simone Weil.” Emily has presented papers at the American Literature Association, the T.S. Eliot Society, and the American Weil Society, where she serves as treasurer. She has worked at Philosophy Talk, the Sacramento Bee, and Stanford’s Arts Intensive and Structured Liberal Education (SLE) programs. Most recently, she interned and wrote for Commonweal Magazine in New York.


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