Call for papers
Workshop “Master-Disciple Relationships in the Interdisciplinary Discourse
Part 2: Humanities, Sciences and Arts“
23rd -25th April 2010
Department of History and Cultural Studies
Prof. Dr. Jeong-hee Lee-Kalisch, Institute of Art History, Department of East Asian Art History,
Koserstr. 20, 14195 Berlin, Prof. Dr. Almut-Barbara Renger, Department of Religious Studies,
Goßlerstraße 2-4, 14195 Berlin
Anja Kreienbrink, M.A. (Department of Religious Studies), Antje Papist-Matsuo, M.A.
(Department of East Asian Art History)
The many different relationships between master and disciple constitute an influential and
universal moment in human society. Even if the forms and characteristics of specific individual
master-disciple relationships differ greatly according to period and region and the prestige
accorded to them in the East and West, the relationships contain a high degree of culturally
constitutive and integrating content over and beyond regional, cultural and historical variations.
Here the transmission of knowledge and skills, traditions and competence plays a central role.
In theoretical considerations of masters and teachers, the concept of the master is clearly
distinct from that of the teacher. While the teacher’s role is to educate and equip students with
skills and knowledge, the master, on the other hand, is predominantly defined by the
emotional bond he arouses in his disciples. Indeed, although the figure of the master exerts a
fascination over his disciples and attracts them to him in part by virtue of his knowledge and
wisdom, the true force of his persona lies in much more ambiguous qualities, often
characterised as spirituality and charisma.
To date there has been no interdisciplinary academic research on the theme of master-disciple
relationships in time and space. For this reason the multiple workshop will explore the incidence
of this relationship in societies and its theoretical considerations in widely different cultural,
religious, historic and social contexts. Here the focus of the workshop will be on continuities,
shifting and caesuras in the relationship from ancient times to the present day. Whereas a first
workshop taking place in November 2009 will deal with masters and their disciples in the areas of
religion and philosophy, the focus of this workshop will center on the various traditions in the
humanities, social sciences and arts (for example fine art, architecture, theatre, music, film, martial
arts), on (artisan) craftwork and on literature.
In all these areas, master figures and their disciples have had an influential role in shaping
cultural developments. The rise of schools, traditions and epochs founded on a charismatic
master-figure demonstrates not only how significant the teaching of this (secret) knowledge
is, it can also throw light on the positions the disciples held in their respective societies and
the importance their relationship to the master had for them in shaping their entire lives. In
East Asian traditions especially, the custom of passing down knowledge underlies the
student’s often lifelong attempt at self-completion and self-perfection. Also to be considered
are the mechanisms involved in forming master-disciple relationships. This will focus on the
one hand on the master’s criteria in selecting those followers chosen to receive his teaching,
limiting the number of disciples who surround him. On the other hand, it will focus on the
role the disciples play in solidifying the master’s legitimacy. The societal ramifications of this
reciprocal relationship are also to be examined in various cultural and historical contexts, as
are the concepts of “charisma” and “spirituality”, which are repeatedly used to characterize
master figures. Another challenge for this workshop is to constitute a more pronounced
formulation of the term “disciple” and its correspondence and differentiation with terms like
“student”, “follower” or “apprentice”.
The range of workshops is expressly addressed to young academics, in order to offer them a
platform for discussions and to encourage them to exchange views and information on past and
future research projects, methodical questions and possible interdisciplinary links. The workshop
languages are German and English. Papers from all disciplines will be considered, not only from
the social sciences and humanities, but also from the natural sciences. Scholars of ancient and
modern history, philology, literary, cultural and religious studies, theatre, film and media studies,
art history, philosophy and theology, sociology and political science, psychology and education
are welcome as well as colleagues from the natural sciences and (history of) medicine.
The papers should ideally fit in thematically with one of sections. Please e-mail your abstract
(max. 500 words) along with a brief outline of your intentions concerning the theme, a CV (1-2
pages) and a list of publications, not forgetting your institutional affiliation, your full postal
address, telephone number and e-mail address to:
The deadline for submitting abstracts is 20st December 2009.
We plan to publish a selection of the workshop papers. Manuscripts should be submitted
before the middle of March 2010. More precise information on the detailed workshop
programme will shortly be announced.
Freie Universität Berlin
Department of History and Cultural Studies
Department of East Asian Art History
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