College of Arts and Sciences

Catholic Studies Presents "Literature and Bioethics: Fictions of Autonomy"  

Conservative writer William Gonch

William Gonch, Ph.D.

The Catholic Studies Program at Seton Hall University proudly announces “Catholic Literature and Bioethics: Fictions of Autonomy,” a lecture by William Gonch, Ph.D. The event will be held on Wednesday, September 21, from 2-4 p.m. in the Beck Room (Walsh Library). It will also be accesible via Microsoft Teams.

Click here to join the event »
Meeting ID: 279 288 816 983 
Passcode: 9PS4GK

About the Event:

Numerous contemporary bioethical questions turn on autonomy. Claims made for abortion, gender reassignment surgery, surrogacy, euthanasia and many other controversial procedures frequently depend on claims about personal and bodily autonomy—which have also been at the center of America’s popular and literary narratives for most of our history. Indeed, America is often thought of as the nation of autonomous individuals.

The Catholic literary tradition, however, is skeptical of claims about personal autonomy. It is unsurprising, then, that the Catholic Church finds itself swimming against the current on many bioethical issues. This talk will explore how American Catholic writers have explored stories of autonomy and interdependence to reimagine the relationship between freedom and community. In the Catholic imagination, autonomy is often a story that we tell ourselves to conceal our dependence. In this lecture, Prof. Gonch will argue that the revelation of hidden dependence has been a source of fruitful creative endeavor for American Catholic writers, including Flannery O’Connor, Toni Morrison, and Kirstin Valdez Quade. In the end, 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 ways that are compelling to our fellow citizens.

About the Speaker:

William Gonch, Ph.D. is a writer, editor, and teacher based in New Jersey. A lifelong book-lover, he received his Ph.D. in English from the University of Maryland, College Park, and his M.A. 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 longtime fan of science fiction and fantasy, and he has taught university courses in ancient, medieval and modern literature.

Dr. Gonch’s writing has appeared in publications including The Hedgehog Review, Public Discourse, The European Conservative, and 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 scholarly organizations devoted to the study of literature. His newsletter is available at

About the Catholic Studies Department:

The Department of Catholic Studies at Seton Hall University offers an innovative, interdisciplinary curriculum for students of any creed who are interested in deepening their knowledge of Catholicism’s rich intellectual tradition and living heritage. Combining the study of history, philosophy, theology, literature, art, sociology, and other disciplines, Catholic Studies focuses on the Church’s dialogue with culture and encounter with the world. Students interested in Catholic Studies have the option to pursue a major, minor, or certificate that complements and enhances the university’s other degree programs and fields of study. Over 20 years the academic program and its variegated activities have stayed true to and fulfilled the Catholic mission and vision of the University. For more information, please contact Ines Murzaku, Ph.D., Director of the Department of Catholic Studies, at [email protected], or Gloria Aroneo at [email protected].

Categories: Faith and Service