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Thomas Moore Johnson Symposium

2019 marks the 100th anniversary of Thomas Moore Johnson's passing, as well as the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Johnson Library and Museum in Osceola, Missouri. To celebrate this occasion, we are organizing a day of scholarly
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  Thomas M. JohnsonSymposium November 7, 2019 1:30 p.m. - 5:45 p.m. November 8, 2019 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. The son of a US senator, Johnson (1851-1919) was born in Osceola, where he served as mayor, prosecuting attorney, and school superintendent.  An ardent Platonist, he was actively involved in both philosophical and esoteric circles, producing translations, publishing journals, and collecting rare books. He corresponded with dozens of intellectuals and prominent figures worldwide (including Henry James Sr., Bronson Alcott, and President Grover Cleveland), and amassed a library of nearly 10,000  volumes—hundreds of which printed in the 16th and 17th centuries. In 1915, he was hailed by Gov. Painter as “Missouri’s greatest living man.”2019 marks the 100th anniversary of TMJ's passing, as well as the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Johnson Library and Museum non-profit corporation ( To celebrate this occasion, Missouri State University has organized a two-day event in the spirit of the symposia TMJ and his circle held for Plato's supposed birthday (November 7) in 1888-90. Location Duane G. Meyer Library Missouri State University 901 S National Ave Springfield, MO 65897 Sponsors College of Humanities and Public AffairsDepartment of EnglishDepartment of History Department of Modern and Classical LanguagesDepartment of Political ScienceDepartment of Religious StudiesMSU Libraries Missouri State University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action/Minority/Female/Veterans/Disability/Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity Employer and Institution Contact Dr. Vadim Putzu Department of Religious Studies Missouri State University 901 S. National Ave Springfield, MO 65897 417-836-4997  Schedule Thursday, November 7 Meyer 1011:30 Welcome—Thomas Peters & Vadim Putzu2:00 Patrick Bowen & Paul Johnson lectures3:30 Anne Baker—Introduction to the Johnson Library archival holdings on display at MSU4:15 Jay Bregman & Natalie Whitaker lectures7:00 Dinner for invited speakers, symposium organizers, and sponsors Friday, November 8 9:00 On campus meeting for invited speakers, symposium organizers, and sponsors and transfer to Osceola10:30 Thomas Moore Johnson II—Tour of the Johnson Library and Museum12:00 Lunch in Osceola for invited speakers, symposium organizers, and sponsors.1:00 Symposium conclusion and return to Springfield Patrick D. Bowen  (PhD 2013, University of Denver—Iliff School of Theology) is an independent scholar who specializes in religious conversion and the history of non-mainline religions in the West. In addition to writing a series of books and articles on American converts to Islam and the history Western Esotericism, Dr. Bowen  was the driving force behind and co-editor of Letters to the Sage, which published hundreds of letters written to Thomas Moore Johnson. Jay Bregman , Professor Emeritus of History/ Religious Studies at the University of Maine, member of the Board of Directors, International Society for Neoplatonic Studies, writes on Neoplatonism, religious syncretism and conflict of religious ideologies in late antiquity; especially as reflected in the work of Synesius of Cyrene, an intellectual Hellenic Neoplatonist, who, with Platonic reservations, became a Christian bishop & the Emperor Julian, who rejected his early Christian education and became a convert to the theurgic Hellenic Neoplatonism of Iamblichus: the ideology of his anti-Christian reign. As a graduate student, he discovered the works of that Romantic era advocate of Julian's religion, Thomas Taylor, as his American disciples. He also studies that literature; principally the work of the later American Transcendentalist Thomas M. Johnson and his friends. K. Paul Johnson  is a retired librarian (MLS, University of Alabama) who has authored four books and contributed chapters to two collections. His first two books from SUNY Press were groundbreaking studies of the Theosophical Society’s early years. His chapter in the current collection Imagining the East reports new research findings on the Bengali Renaissance as a background for the TS mission in India. As coeditor of Letters to the Sage: The Selected Correspondence of Thomas Moore Johnson, he helped to transcribe, annotate, and index letters from dozens of early TS members as well as members of the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor. His presentation In Search of Zanoni reports on an investigation of the most mysterious of the sixty correspondents  who appear in the two volume collection. Natalie Whitaker  earned her History BA (2013) and English MA (2015) from Missouri State University. She completed her Masters in Library Science (2017) from the University of Missouri with emphases in digital humanities and rare books. Currently Natalie is a PhD Candidate in the English Department at Saint Louis University. Her dissertation examines the intersections of gender and anger in medieval texts and how these texts affected readers and medievalism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Natalie’s early graduate work with the Johnson Library influenced her dissertation project by developing her interest in understanding how readers, such as Thomas Moore Johnson, were affected by ancient, medieval, and early modern texts. Speakers
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