Braniff Conference in the Liberal Arts

Braniff Conference in the Liberal Arts

8th Annual Braniff Conference in the Liberal Arts | For Every Time, a Season | March 4-5, 2022


Andrew Willard Jones

Keynote Speaker: Andrew Willard Jones, Ph.D. | Franciscan University of Steubenville

Andrew Willard Jones holds a Ph.D. in Medieval History from Saint Louis University with a focus on the Church of the High Middle Ages. Jones’s work is primarily concerned with historical political theology and with the reconciliation of the post-modern with the pre-modern. Jones is the Director of Catholic Studies at Franciscan University and a founding editor of NewPolity, a journal of postliberal thought. He is the author of Before Church and State: A Study of Social Order in St. Louis IX’s Sacramental Kingdom and of he Two Cities: A History of Christian Politics. He lives in Steubenville, Ohio with his wife and kids.


Jonathan J. Sanford, UD

Plenary Speaker: Jonathan J. Sanford, Ph.D. | University of Dallas

Jonathan J. Sanford, Ph.D., is the 10th president of the University of Dallas. President Sanford, who previously served as provost and dean of UD’s Constantin College of Liberal Arts and holds a doctorate in philosophy, is a noted scholar in virtue ethics. Sanford has published widely on philosophical figures and topics, especially in foundational questions in moral philosophy, as evidenced in “Before Virtue: Assessing Contemporary Virtue Ethics” (The Catholic University of America Press 2015). As provost, Sanford oversaw the development of a university-wide strategic plan, and as president, he is focused on leading its implementation by building on the university’s reputation for academic rigor, its commitment to classical Western tradition, and its faithful Catholic identity. 


About the Conference

The Braniff Graduate Student Association of the University of Dallas is pleased to announce the 8th annual Braniff Conference in the Liberal Arts, focusing on the relationship between seasons and the human person. As the world rediscovers and refreshes its sense of rhythm and routine, this timely theme facilitates inquiry into the myriad of ways the human experience is marked by the passage of seasons. In searching for a narrative order to the human story, countless thinkers have charted the progress of consecutive epochs. From the frame of the Triduum in Dante’s Inferno to the gentle variations in Monet’s “Haystacks”, seasonal changes have inspired artistic visionaries in every age. In the world of practical applications, seasons demand preparation and foresight but also foster conviviality and innovation, from the management of a harvest to the oversight of public festivities. And interpersonal relationships go through “seasons” of closeness and distance, all of which are marked by a kind of finitude and hope for regeneration.

The conference will take place at the University of Dallas, located in Irving, TX, in accordance with the general COVID-19 guidelines issued by the University of Dallas. For those guidelines and more information about the University's COVID-19 response, go to


Grzegorz Ignatik is Associate Professor of Dogmatic Theology at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio. He is the author of Person and Value: Karol Wojtyła’s Personalistic and Normative Theory of Man, Morality, and Love as well as several articles on the thought of St. John Paul II. His most recent translation is Karol Wojtyła, The English Critical Edition of the Works of Karol Wojtyła/John Paul II. Volume 1: “Person and Act and Related Essays.”

Joseph Cherny is a Ph.D. candidate in philosophy at the University of St. Thomas (Houston). He is writing his dissertation on happiness in Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas. He has published on Robert Nozick's theory of the meaning of life. He received his bachelor's degree from The Catholic University of America.

Jens Harrington is a second-year philosophy Ph.D. student on the theology track at Villanova University. One of his primary research interests is soteriology in ancient Greek, medieval, and Eastern philosophy. Specifically, he is interested in the relationship between language, thought, and being in various philosophical schools, especially Pyrrhonian skepticism, Christian and secular Neoplatonism, Daoism, and Buddhism. A second primary research interest is the relationship between madness and philosophy as it is conceived in Plato and mad studies.

Nayeli Riano is a graduate student in political theory at Georgetown University. Her work is primarily on 19th century Latin American Political Theory on the issue of nation-building. She holds a master’s degree in intellectual history from the University of St Andrews and her B.A. in English from the University of Pennsylvania. She is also a writer, and will be publishing a collection of essays titled “Dwellings Far from Desperate Fields: Essays on Faith, Memory, and Modernity” this spring.

Stephanie Stoeckl is a Ph.D. Candidate in Comparative and World Literatures at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where her research focuses on the early 20th Century Catholic Revival, with a special focus on France and Germany. She earned her B.A. in Comparative Literary Traditions and German at the University of Dallas and her M.A. in Comparative Literature at the University of Regensburg in Bavaria. At Illinois she teaches German Language, Intro to Study Abroad, and literature classes ranging from a Western Literature survey course to Viking Mythology to a course on Religion and Science Fiction.

Kelsey Coia is finishing her M.A. in ancient philology at the Polis Institute in Jerusalem. She studied classics at Macalester College and has interests in Roman religious iconography. Ms. Coia teaches Latin at Bishop O'Connell High School in Arlington, Virginia.

Knox Merkle is a lifelong resident of Moscow, ID. He graduated from New Saint Andrews College in Moscow in 2021 with a B.A. in Liberal Arts and Culture and a Certificate of Music. He is currently pursuing an M.A. in Theology and Letters from the same institution, and he teaches Latin for Logos Online School.

Michael D. Boland is a Ph.D. candidate in Theology at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at the Catholic University of America. He has earned a Master's in Theological Studies at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute and a B.A. in Philosophy and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville. His primary research interests are in theological and philosophical anthropology, metaphysics, and the relationship between ecclesiology and politics.

Austin Walker receives his Ph.D. from the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago in March 2022. He wrote a dissertation entitled, "An Alexandrian Hermeneutic or Theology in a Political Mode: A Study of the Political Philosophy of John Henry Newman."  He works on political and theological questions in the history of ideas. He is the assistant director at the Lumen Christi Institute, and is also an instructor in the University of Chicago's Basic Program of Continuing Liberal Education.

Conference Program

Call for Papers

We invite papers from all disciplines which deepen our collective appreciation of and understanding for the seasonality of the human experience. Preference will be given to those working in the liberal arts disciplines including—but not limited to—philosophy, literature, politics, theology, history, psychology, and the fine arts, and drawing from the classical, medieval, modern, or contemporary periods. The conference committee will invite select presenters to submit their essays to Ramify: The Journal of the Braniff Graduate School of the Liberal Arts.

Please submit abstracts to Abstracts should be prepared for blind review. Please include a separate cover letter with your name, paper title, email address, institutional affiliation, and, if you are a current student, your degree program.

Abstracts are due no later than Friday, December 10th. Presenters will be notified of their acceptance by January 14th and will be asked to submit their full papers, suitable for a 15-minute presentation (no more than 2,500 words), by February 18th.

Previous Conferences

  • 7th Annual BCLA: Solitude and Community | Keynote Speaker: Mark T. Mitchell, Ph.D., Patrick Henry College | Plenary Speaker: Matthew J. Peterson, Ph.D., Claremont Institute
  • 6th Annual BCLA: Nature and Human Flourishing | Keynote Speaker: Jason Baxter, Ph.D., Wyomic Catholic College
  • 5th Annual BCLA: Scripture and the Disciplines | Keynote Speaker: Michael Waldstein, Ph.D., Franciscan University of Steubenville
  • 4th Annual BCLA: What is Imagination? | Keynote Speaker: Eva Brann, Ph.D., St. John's College
  • 3rd Annual BCLA: On Friendship | Keynote speaker: Ronna Burger, Philosophy, Tulane University
  • 2nd Annual BCLA: On Philosophy and Poetry | Keynote speaker: Ron Smith, Poet Laureate of Virginia
  • Proceedings from the 1st Annual BCLA: On Reason and Revelation, were published by Ramify. The keynote speaker was Khalil Habib, Philosophy, Salve Regina University