Call for Proposals for HRC’s Mysticism Colloquium

Poster by Qinyue Lei, Class of 2024. Image credit: Stefan Keller from Pixabay

Humanities Research Center’s Mysticism Colloquium led by Professors Ben Van Overmeire, Bryce Beemer, and Yitzhak Lewis.

“We are organizing an HRC-funded colloquium around the theme “mysticism,” defined broadly. We invite papers that discuss both the general usage of the term mysticism (“what does it mean?”) and specific case studies of mysticism as it manifests in religious practice, literature, behavior, ritual, and otherwise.”

Please submit a proposal of no more than 150 words. Applications are due by Sept 30, to ben.van.overmeire@duke.edu.
Selected proposals will be presenting online or in-person.

The colloquium will be held on the Duke Kunshan University campus and virtually Dec. 2–3, 2022

Event overview:

In Orientalism and Religion, Richard King provides a genealogy of the term “mysticism,” arguing that this term is both “socially constructed” and “the conceptual site of a historical struggle for power and authority” (9). The label of “mysticism” has been applied to many practices and movements (religious or not) across many social and historical contexts. However, the term itself acquires its coherence not from the cumulation of disparate phenomena it has been appended to but from the very particular historical context in and through which it is articulated as a modern academic category. We aim to examine both the historical contexts in which the term mysticism has been deployed, and also examine whether the term “mysticism” is conceptually useful in pursuing scholarship on religion. For this, we invite papers that discuss both the general usage of the term mysticism (“what does it mean?”) and specific case studies of mysticism as it manifests in religious practice, literature, behavior, ritual, and otherwise. Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

  • The relation between mysticism and literature, the classification of texts as mystical vs. literary, e.g. the Daode Jing, The Cloud of Unknowing, and so on
  • Mystics as a religious subgroup
  • Mysticism and religious experience
  • Critical assessments of the nature of mysticism
  • Mysticism as a term of exclusion and affirmation

Image credit: Stefan Keller from Pixabay