The President and Program Committee of the Ohio Valley Philosophy of Education Society (OVPES) invite proposals that broadly interpret the theme—Education and the Suffering of Others in an Era of Spectatorship—for its annual meeting, to be held:

September 27-29, 2018 |  Nashville, Indiana | The Seasons Lodge

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is told as a set of nested stories.  The Arctic explorer Walton writes to his sister Margaret about a strange encounter with Victor Frankenstein, who recounts his story, which includes a long passage in which Frankenstein’s monster recounts the story of his education.  After having been violently attacked by hostile villagers, the monster hides in a “hovel” near the home of the De Lacys, a family of political exiles who have settled in rural Switzerland.  By observing their interactions, he learns language, literacy, history, and the value of mutual care.  The monster decides that this family might take a fellow refugee in. One afternoon when the younger De Lacys are out, he knocks on the door and is invited in by the father.  As Shelley tells it,

I entered; ‘Pardon this intrusion,’ said I. ‘I am a traveler in want of a little rest; you would greatly oblige me if you would allow me to remain a few minutes by the fire.’

‘Enter,’ said De Lacy, ‘and I will try in what manner I can relieve your wants; but unfortunately my children are far from home, and as I am blind, I am afraid I shall find it difficult to procure food for you.’

The monster, who fears that he will be turned away again, tells De Lacy that he needs not food but rather companions.  Without them, he says, “I am an outcast in the world forever.”  Tragically, only the blind father recognizes the monster’s humanity.  On returning home, his son “dashed [the monster] to the ground, and struck [him violently] with a stick.”

Shelley published Frankenstein in 1818, four decades after the French revolution of 1789 gave rise to hopes as heady as the monster’s: that poverty, political oppression, and even human cruelty would be replaced by equality, freedom, and human kindness.  By 1818, those hopes seemed to many impossibly idealistic, and her novel reads as (among many possible interpretations) a reflection on humanity’s limitations.   In 2018, the democratic and cosmopolitan hopes raised by the destruction of the Berlin Wall in 1989 seem to have fallen just as hard.

Millions of immigrants and refugees are knocking on the doors of nations viewed as bastions of democracy and human rights, but the response to them is often as hostile as young De Lacy’s.  Those on the “inside” can be equally hostile to one another, whether fellow citizens come looking for basic health care, help fighting opioid addiction, safety in public spaces, reproductive rights, respect for religious beliefs, or any number of other needs.  And, like the monster in his hovel, many persons stand on the margins, their status as insiders or outsiders unclear.  Furthermore, while the distinction between sight and blindness is rendered in Shelley’s novel in literal terms, 2018 offers far more ways of “seeing” and “unseeing” than 1818 did – with the 24/7 news cycle bringing new images of suffering constantly to viewers’ fickle attentions, only to cycle them off again.  Social media makes it both easier to become aware of suffering and to fall into passive modes of spectatorship.  Meanwhile, political polarization and the multiplication of news sources make it harder for readers, listeners, and viewers to sort out which of the alternative stories presented are facts, which are fictions, and how to draw the line between fact and fiction.  OVPES invites authors to use the questions raised by this call to address political, ethical, and epistemological challenges that educators and philosophers grapple with today.

Papers addressing the theme might include, but are not limited to, scholarship on the following topics:

  • “Outsider” voices in philosophy of education;
  • The stranger at the door; distant strangers; the “collapse of distance” through technology and globalization;
  • Spectatorship, recognition, and other optical metaphors in education;
  • The human and humanities, animals, and the post-human;
  • Technology as a means of connection and/or disconnection;
  • The alienation of diverse populations;
  • Stories, testimonials, and facts in a “post-truth” era.

This list is intended to be illustrative rather than exhaustive.  The Ohio Valley Philosophy of Education Society welcomes papers that address the theme directly, obliquely, and not at all.  Scholars with something to say about philosophy of education are invited to propose whatever work you are doing currently, mindful of what you would like to gain from arguing it before a community of colleagues. All authors are encouraged to consider OVPES as a site for engaging their best and latest thinking in a critical and friendly environment. Let us come together to engage in philosophical conversation, expand each other’s thinking, strengthen our scholarly networks, enjoy the company of colleagues, and create something new.


Proposals for individual papers, alternative sessions, and panels or symposia involving two or three speakers on a single topic are welcomed. All proposals should be blinded of all author details for peer review. (See Conference Proposal Guidelines, which follow). Submissions should be made via email with proposals attached as Word documents (.doc or .docx format). All proposals should be received on or before May 15, 2018.

Submit to: Dr. Amy Shuffelton, Program Chair,

Accepted proposals will be notified by June 15, 2018.

FINAL PAPERS AND JOURNAL CONSIDERATION: Full-length conference papers should be no longer than 4500 words, including footnotes, following the Chicago Manual of Style. Papers presented at the conference and meeting all the editorial requirements will be considered for publication in Volume 49 of Philosophical Studies in Education, the refereed journal of OVPES, following a separate, peer review process. Conference participants should submit their final papers to session moderators in advance of the conference; final papers are due to the journal’s Contributing Editor December 1, 2018 for consideration in the journal (see manuscript requirements at


PART 1: (In the body of your email message)

  • Proposal title
  • Presentation format (e.g., paper session, panel, symposium, or alternate format)
  • Your name, title, and institutional affiliation (as you would like it listed/spelled on the program; this should be the main contact person)
  • Your address, phone, and email
  • The name(s) of other authors or presenters, if applicable (as you would like them listed/spelled on the program)
  • An abstract of up to 100 words
  • The subject of your email message should read “OVPES 2018 Proposal”

 PART 2: (In a Word attachment)

  • Indicate the proposal title and presentation format.
  • Provide a summary of up to 500 words. Describe how you will address your topic and/or its line of argument, explain its significance, and indicate several major references you will draw upon to make your argument and to place it into scholarly conversation. Make the connection to philosophy of education clear, and if applicable, explain how your proposal relates to the conference theme.
  • Remove all author-identifying markers, including references to your prior work.


  • The Program Committee reserves the right to request you resubmit electronic proposals, submit them in the body of an email message, or submit a paper copy within a reasonable time frame in case of technical problems with electronic submission.
  • You will receive an email acknowledging receipt of your electronic submission.