Encountering the Foreign and Strange
Venice International University
Prof. em. Dr. Ulrich Berner (Religious Studies, University of Bayreuth)
Prof. em. Dr. Michael von Brück (Religious Studies, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich)
Prof. Dr. Daria Pezzoli-Olgiati (Study and History of Religion, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich)
Prof. Dr. Dennis Schilling (Sinology, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich)
Prof. Dr. Loren T. Stuckenbruck (Protestant Theology, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich)
Prof. Dr. med. Dr. phil. Lorenz Welker (Musicology, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich)
Prof. Dr. Robert A. Yelle (Religious Studies, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich)
Short Description of Seminar Topic
Human social experience and, more specifically, the human capacity to adjust to new situations is challenged by the encounter, whether between single individuals or among groups, with the „other“ and unfamiliar. The perception of the „other“ emerges from differences of identity (whether along lines of social class, race, religion, values, worldviews, gender, age, culture) and manifests itself in a wide range of deliberate and latent forms of communication. Indeed, the ability of societies to function, especially those that are or aspire to be pluriform, depends on the strategies that make room for the „other“ while coming to terms with intrinsic identities.
Socio-political alliances and religious traditions acknowledge the importance of negotiating the „other“ and, indeed, are shaped by both what they define as different and how they go about defining it. The seminar shall pursue this theme through an interdisciplinary approach that takes specialist expertise of teaching staff and various levels of research interests among students and early-career academics into account. In particular, the seminar sessions shall, as a whole, take the historic and contemporary encounter of religious traditions rooted in Christianity with diverse forms of Judaism and Islam as the point of departure, informed by social and cultural studies approaches, expressions of culture (e.g. art, music, literature), and the study and analysis of interreligious encounter itself. The basis for the sessions themselves shall include: (a) sources from antiquity; (b) competing scholarly discourse about their significance; (c) representations of Christians, Jews, or Muslims as „other“ in early, medieval, pre-modern, and modern theology, art and music in western and non-western cultures; and (d) social and cultural studies as well as historical analysis of factors that shape religious and socio-cultural understanding. In relation to the Venetian context, the seminar will focus attention on the history, socio-cultural, and religious contributions, past and present, of the Jewish „Ghetto“ and of the city of Venice itself, an extraordinary example of encounter and division between different cultural, religious, and social-political identities.
The seminar includes presentations of ongoing projects, discussion of literature and visits to Venice in relation to the topic. The students are expected to contribute actively to the seminar with previous reading of selected literature, short presentations of case studies, and an active participation in the site visit.
Admission to the Seminar
Advanced students in Theology and in the Study of Religion are kindly invited to take part in the seminar held at Venice International University (www.univiu.org).
To apply for participation, students are asked to send a short proposal of maximum 400 words for a paper related to the topic. The proposal should describe either a historical or contemporary case study or reflect a theoretical perspective. In addition, students should submit a short letter of motivation. Since places are limited, the contributions will be selected that contribute best to the development of the topic at the seminar.
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