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Roger Bissell

Atlas Society's 2012 Summer Seminar

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This email was sent out on Thursday October 20:

Atlas Society Summer Seminar 2012: Call for Presentation Proposals

Planning has begun for the 2012 Summer Seminar, TAS's celebration of open Objectivism.

Next year's Summer Seminar will be better than ever. We plan a shorter, more convenient schedule. We will offer the kind of quality experience that TAS is known for. We will have a top-flight program to offer. And we plan to expand the Summer Seminar audience through live video streaming of many sessions.

Look for registration information and a description of the program in early 2012. We expect the Summer Seminar to run over a long weekend, perhaps at the end of June. We will share more details when they are settled.

Meanwhile, we are looking for presentation ideas!

Get the Call for Proposals online. Presentation proposals are due December 2, 2011.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or ideas you want to discuss.

--William Thomas

Summer Seminar conference director



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Here is the text of the Call for Proposals:

The Atlas Society

2012 Summer Seminar


SUBMIT BY 12/02/2011

The Atlas Society is currently planning its 2012 annual Summer Seminar for late June or

early July, 2012 at a location to be determined in the Eastern USA. Likely dates are June 29–

July 1. We expect to have the site and dates decided by December 1, 2011.

To create the program for the Seminar, we are soliciting proposals for lectures, courses,

workshops, artistic performances, exhibits and other program elements.

This document contains general information about the Seminar, descriptions of the categories

of material we are interested in seeing presented, and guidelines for proposals.

General Information

The 2012 Summer Seminar will be a three-day conference for people interested in Ayn

Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism. The primary features of each day’s schedule are lecture,

performance, and workshop sessions. There may be 20-30 sessions total, running 60 minutes

each. We expect that from 150 to over 200 people will attend in person, and hundreds more

may follow sessions through online live streaming. The audience is diverse in background,

interests, and level of knowledge. It includes college and graduate students, professional and

business people, retirees, and professional scholars. Because of the size and diversity of the

audience, TAS is seeking an equally diverse program, with presentations that vary in subject

matter, format, and level. But Objectivism and the Objectivist world view are central to the

whole program.

Summer Seminar proposals will be selected on the basis of their intellectual merit, appeal to

the expected audience, and fit with the overall program. We are particularly interested in

speakers who can offer two or more talks or offer a mini-course covering two or more

sessions. Speakers are typically compensated with a tuition waiver for the Summer Seminar

and an honorarium. In some cases, travel funds and room and board at the Seminar are also

provided. The deadline for proposals is December 2, 2011. Please send an electronic copy


William Thomas, Director of Programs

Email: conferencedirector@atlassociety.org

The Atlas Society , 1001 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 830

Washington, DC 20036

William Thomas Tel: (202) 270-6880

P a ge


Program Categories


Lectures in this category deal with issues in philosophy, including the history of ideas and

philosophical aspects of other subjects such as psychology, literature, etc. Presentations in the

Philosophy track include, but are not limited to:

Core principles and topic areas in Objectivism.

The extension of the philosophy to new areas and issues. These presentations

should reflect knowledge both of the relevant Objectivist philosophical

principles and of the subject area to which they are being applied.

Surveys of other thinkers, historical (e.g., Aquinas, Mill, Sartre, Russell,

Freud) or contemporary (e.g., Thomas Kuhn, Peter Singer); or of systems of

thought such as existentialism, evolutionary psychology, or secular

humanism. These presentations should contrast the thinker's views with


Advanced Seminar: in “Advanced Seminar” sessions, students and scholars

discuss new academic essays on Objectivism to help hone the papers for

publication. Papers should be proposed by December 2. Final drafts will be

due at the end of May.

Politics and Culture

This category includes commentary and analysis from an Objectivist point of view on

political and social issues, and on intellectual and cultural trends.

The ideal presentation will reflect solid understanding of the specific issue or field and will

offer a genuine insight or new perspective on the issue. Presentations that reflect a

distinctively Objectivist approach are welcome, as are presentations which explore freemarket

solutions to pressing political issues.

For 2012, we plan a symposium of talks on the presidential campaign and the hopes for

political change, and we welcome proposals relevant to this special topic.

Applied Objectivism/Art of Living

Presentations in this category put Objectivist principles into action, applying them to

practical life issues and problems, such as:

Personal concerns such as goal-setting and priorities, relationships, inner life and selfesteem,

thinking effectively, communication skills, raising children, health, etc.

Business and professional issues involved in pursuing careers and interacting with

people in the workplace

Ideas for effective political and cultural activism

Ways of addressing spiritual needs and enriching the experience of Objectivism as a

way of life through ceremonies, motivational practices, and communities

Lessons and workshops on writing, acting, dancing, exercise, and other areas in

which participants may wish to develop their abilities

P a ge


Arts and Aesthetics

Summer Seminar participants have a strong interest in art. Any form of art—from music and

dance, to the visual arts, to literature, theater, and film—is an appropriate subject.

Presentations in this category can include:

Issues in aesthetic theory, such as the standards of art criticism

Historical or contemporary trends in art

Specific works that would be of interest to our audience

Appreciation: instruction in how to enjoy and/or evaluate art

Artistic performances, readings, and exhibitions

Ayn Rand as a literary artist.


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The program for The Atlas Summit 2013 in DC, June 27–30, has been announced here.

Sample Presentations

The Role of Natural Kinds in Science

Glenn Fletcher

New Romanticism

Michael Newberry

What Science Says about Free Will

Raymond Raad

Objectivity in the Law

Jason Walker

Electronic Privacy

Alex Kozinski


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The Romantic Manifesto

Within this summer’s program of The Atlas Society, there is a symposium Romanticism Today, comprising three sessions:

Michael Newberry, visual artist

Artist Michael Newberry will interact with the Atlas Summit audience to find insights about older and contemporary romantic artworks. We will explore concepts of goal-directed action in means, emotion, sought-out states of being, and loss beyond our control. The thread will tease out Objectivism’s stance on art that “can and ought to be.” Because of the personal nature of art the goal of the presentation will be to engage concepts, like in a dance, rather than as a dictate.

Walter Donway, poet

Ayn Rand argued that in esthetics Objectivism implies Romanticism. In literature, music, and painting the artists she loved are of the Romantic School. What ideas made Romanticism, which swept Western culture from 1750 to 1850, possible? What were contradictions in those premises limited Romanticism’s achievements, often made its works seem inconsistent with reason, and ultimately crippled it? Is a new Romantic movement beginning today? What premises does it require? And what could it mean for the arts, for education and the crucial American sense of life?

Michael Shapiro, film composer

Film scores represent one of the last bastions of Romantic instrumental music, and some of the most breathtaking and memorable scores have been composed for fantasy-genre films. Movies like Lord of the Rings, Army of Darkness, Conan the Barbarian, the Harry Potter septology, or medieval-historical epics like Braveheart and El Cid seem to have stimulated movie composers to heights of creativity in order to convey heroism or mythological landscapes and creatures. Film composer Michael Shapiro will take a whistlestop tour of the history of “sword movies” and the epic musical accompaniments that helped fuel the genre’s ongoing popularity.


There is discussion of Rand on Romanticism and Naturalism in these sources. I think Ellen Stuttle has written about the distinction here at OL, but I don't locate it.

Beauty, Goodness, Life

. . .

I have not covered Rand’s thought on Romanticism and Naturalism, and I shall not be doing so. More of Rand’s esthetics than what I have covered thus far will unfold in the sequel. Let me compile my more substantial differences with Rand to this point and with some anticipation of their further unfolding. What Rand called “literary mood studies” are not to be excluded from the concept literary art, otherwise poetry would have to be excluded as well. Rand’s proximate and ultimate functions of art are not the only ones. Rand’s definition of art is too narrow. Her criterion of esthetic abstraction is importance, in a sense we have examined, and that is too narrow as the criterion of esthetic abstraction. Lastly for now, Rand’s range of philosophical issues going into the makeup of sense of life is likely too limited, and I doubt one’s sense(s) of life has been so well-integrated by the subconscious as Rand supposed.

. . .


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