2021 Torrance Virtual Workshop-Retreat

July 30 - Aug 1

Workshop Retreat

2021 Torrance Virtual Workshop-Retreat 
July 30 - August 1

Sponsor: The Thomas F. Torrance Theological Fellowship. 
Organizers: Brent Purkaple, Geordie Ziegler, Daniel Cameron, Kerry Magruder, Myk Habets.
Contact: workshop-retreat@tftorrance.org

Log-in required (links coming summer 2021):  
| Participants List | Full Program | Virtual Book Hall | Two Statements | Last-Minute Updates |

What is a Workshop-Retreat?

The Torrance Workshop-Retreat will consist of successive Zoom meetings over the space of a weekend. Breaks in between online sessions will allow time for reading presenter materials, meditation, and backchannel conversation. The Workshop-Retreat is designed for students and scholars, but will also interest pastors and lay people. 

Torrance Workshop-Retreats are different from other conferences. Rather than a typical conference, this event is a retreat, and a workshop. 

1. Retreat

Come join others in the Torrance tradition for a special weekend retreat of worship and prayer together. In addition to the opening address, which will set the tone for the weekend of doing our thinking "on our knees," the program features three retreat sessions, each lasting 30 minutes. In format, facilitators may combine, at their discretion, responsive readings, music, prayer, and a short homily. The retreat sessions will lead us in prayerful reflection, meditation and worship. The facilitators may provide PDFs in advance for responsive reading or thoughtful consideration.

2. Workshop

Are you ready to begin a new research project involving T. F. Torrance or the Torrance tradition? There’s no need to wait until you have finished a paper to benefit from the input, advice and feedback of current scholars. Rather than a typical conference, where presentations consist of polished papers, workshop sessions are designed to assist anyone with a new Torrance project, whether they are new to Torrance or experienced scholars or anywhere in between. Think of them as "brown-bag" discussions, if you like. For this reason also, general themes for the Workshop will emerge from the projects that are submitted rather than established in advance by the organizers.

Workshop details

There will be three presenters per session, with 24 minutes for each project. Each researcher will present a project for up to 12 minutes, leaving 12 minutes for discussion. Each 12-minute presentation will consist of at least the three following components: 

  • a statement of the presenter’s overall research question
  • the concepts the researcher is exploring in relation to the research question, and 
  • the sources (both primary and secondary) that seem to be of key relevance to the project. 

Participants will provide Project PDFs describing their work, covering these points and additional details, drafts or narratives, depending on the stage of the project. Project PDFs will be available for registered participants to download and read before the event. Input during the session will be provided in a conversational manner, facilitated by the workshop session chair. 

After the three presentations, each workshop session will conclude with a 10-minute reflection by a session Commentator. Commentators will share their impressions of key concepts, offer any tips or general guidance, note particularly useful sources (primary and secondary), or possible misconceptions, etc., related to the topics of that session.

Commentators include (tbd):

  • Workshop A: 
  • Workshop B: 
  • Workshop C: 
  • Workshop D: 
  • Panel Chair: 

Up to four workshop sessions allow for up to 12 different presenters. Workshop sessions are plenary in order to encourage the exchange of perspectives across various subspecialties, although sessions may be organized topically depending on the applications received.

Workshop Ethos

To better grasp the ethos of the Workshop, imagine it as a virtual seminar discussion held at mid-semester, when research is underway but well before the semester paper is ready to turn in. The presentation centers upon a research question, not necessarily yet an argument, as the question is emerging in a still exploratory phase of the project. Although the format is ideal for a graduate student in the early stages of a dissertation, it is also appropriate for experienced scholars embarking upon new projects. Workshop sessions provide an opportunity for presenters to receive feedback, pointers, and advice from participants, and to let others know about their current or emerging interests. The chief aim is to help researchers efficiently and effectively launch new projects. Another goal is to promote future Torrance scholarship.

Imagine the conversations that might result from spending a weekend at a wilderness retreat center in the mountains together with others in the Torrance tradition. The ethos of plenary sessions, open to all registrants, provides a personal venue for initial queries to be made in an impromptu format, with sustained conversation over the course of the weekend with other Torrance researchers.

We hope that this ethos will give rise to informal "backchannel" communication. A participant's list with email addresses is provided (log-in required) to facilitate conversation during the weekend. Why not arrange your own Zoom breakfast, lunch, dinner, or happy hour between sessions?

Panel Discussion

The weekend will conclude with a panel discussion where the commentators will reflect on common themes arising from the presentations and current trends in Torrance studies. They will identify areas where further study is needed, and offer general tips and advice for beginning researchers.

Asynchronous Access

In Le Livre du ciel et du monde (1377), the medieval natural philosopher and bishop Nicole Oresme composed a whimsical poem about priests who travel east and west in opposite directions around the globe. One experienced Easter while the other was still in Lent. Similarly for us today, the spherical shape of the Earth poses a dilemma for international virtual events. Therefore, all sessions will be recorded for the sake of those in time zones far removed from US Central Time. Yet to preserve the spirit of free discussion and the special ethos of this event, links to the original videos will be accessible only to registered participants with a Fellowship Membership or a Guest Pass. Downloading of the videos will not be authorized or permitted. The Workshop-Retreat has a special character promoting impromptu discussion, more like a seminar course than a typical conference. The purpose of the original posting of videos is not to create a permanent record, nor to inhibit impromptu questions and comments, but to provide access during the event so that every participant will be able to follow all of the sessions. 

Approximately two weeks after the event, some videos will be deleted, and some videos will be made available to the public. Public posting of recorded sessions will be optional, subject to each presenter's wishes. Discussion times after each presentation will not be made public, as this would not provide an obvious benefit and might constitute a hindrance to free and open discussion. At this time, the Guest Pass will also expire.