Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Enlightened Witnessing: Rehumanizing through Confrontations with Violence

Dr. Lucien X. Lombardo, Karen A. Polonko.

This presentation builds on the foundational work of two great humanistists who provide transformative lessons from confrontations with violence: Eliie Wiesel in the death camps of Nazi Germany and Alice Miller with the 'poisonous pedagogy' of childhood discipline. On this foundation we explore the humanizing processes and lessons for our students provided in two classes taught for many years: "Understanding Violence: From Suicide to Genocide" and "Violence in the World of Children: From Corporal Punishment to War". The central theme of this project is to demonstrate how directly confronting the dehumanizing experiences that lead to and result from violence can change our individual and collective lives. The experiences of Wiesel, Miller and our students provide insights into the transformative rehumanizing power of confronting and testifying concerning the reality of violence.


Dr. Lucien X. Lombardo  (United States)
Sociology and Criminal Justice
Old Dominion University

Lucien Lombardo spent 8 years teaching in a maximum secutity prison in New York State. He received a MA degree in Latin American Studies from the University of Wisconsin in 1969 and was there during the years of protest. His prison years covered the time of the Attica prison riot in New York State. He coordinates Indivualized INterdisciplinary Studies program at Old Dominion University and has taught about prisons, violence, crime and the media for many years. His teaching and writing seeks to integrate personal experience and meaning with academic study and thoughthful contemplation.

Karen A. Polonko  (United States)
Professor of Sociology

Old Dominion University

Karen A. Polonko, Ph.D. is Professor of Sociology at Old Dominion University. She has taught courses on the sociology of children, child welfare, and violence in the world of children. She has published widely
in the areas of marriage and families. Current interests include children's rights, consequences of corporal punishment, and the implications of research on energy fields for children's well being.

  • Rehumanizing
  • Personal Transformation
  • Violence
  • Teaching about Violence
  • Countering Violence
  • Enlightened Witnessing
Person as Subject
  • Wiesel, Elie Miller, Alice

(60min Workshop, English)