CONFERENCE INVITATION | “The Holy in a Pluralistic World: Rudolf Otto’s Legacy in the 21st Century” | UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN | 5-6 November 2014

Rudolf Otto, author of the classic “The Idea of the Holy” (org. 1917; Eng. trans., 1923), is best known today for his analysis of numinous experience — he coined the word “numinous” — as a mysterium tremendum et fascinans. He was also one of the most important and sophisticated European thinkers of the last century to broach topics of religious diversity. This conference will examine Otto’s theoretical and practical legacy with regard to religious pluralism, with special emphasis on Abrahamic religions, a topic relatively neglected in Otto studies. Our goals are both to understand Otto in his context and to examine his potential significance today for interreligious relations as well as the academic understanding of religions.

The conference will consist of an evening keynote address, five panels (three or four papers in each session plus extensive discussion), and a concluding discussion. It is collaboratively organized by Prof. Gregory Alles, McDaniel College, and Rev. Dr. Ulrich Rosenhagen, University of Wisconsin–Madison. The plenary address will be given by Prof. Robert Orsi, Northwestern University: “The Problem of the Holy in a World of Religious Pluralism.”

Panelists are confirmed and complete (see Please contact Dr. Ulrich Rosenhagen ( for info; this UW-Madison conference is free to attend but travel/lodging/food not covered.