Graduiertenkolleg Wahrnehmung der Geschlechterdifferenz in religiösen Symbolsystemen (Klinger)
Sanderring 2, 97070 Würzburg
Other participating persons and organisations:
Research foci (and basic equipment-based research projects):
The interdisciplinary graduate seminar pursues an academic discussion of gender within the context of religion.
The term ?gender difference? seeks to express the divergent realities in which women and men participate, a difference which
is a fundamental aspect of the human experience. The study of the constitutive meaning of the category gender has in recent
years established itself as an interdisciplinary and international field of research in academic discourse, and has come to be
known as gender studies.
Religion is and always has been an important medium in which gender roles have been constituted, shaped and solidified. It
also sees moments, however, in which established role models collapse or fall by the wayside. The seminar is concerned with
religion in various spatial and chronological contexts, but does try to maintain selective focus.
The prehistoric and classical religions of Europe, as well as those of the Near East and Egypt, each of which influenced
European cultural history and the Christian religion, serve as bases for discussion. Empirical approaches which treat
contemporary religious forms and content and examine an increasing secularisation complete the spectrum.
The common ground on which discussion of these various religious phenomena occurs is the conception of religion as symbolic
system. This term, the origins of which are found in culture theory, understands religion as historically transmitted complexes
of meanings and conceptions which appear in symbolic form, and as such, make possible their communication and further
development (C. Geertz). Symbol systems function in two directions: They represent reality and they shape it.
Since the term religious symbol system implies methodological diversity, i.e. can be integrated equally well into a
deconstructivist, a psychoanalytic or an essentialist approach, rather varied points of departure are presented for discussion of
gender studies as well as for the individual research projects of the members of the seminar.
The graduate seminar operates with these varied approaches within an interdisciplinary framework, which includes the
analysis of quite varied sources, e.g. texts, visual material, archaeological finds and interviews. The wide spectrum of
methodologies, which are intended to suit the individual objectives of the different research projects, is a characteristic of the
seminar. Also taken into account, in addition to the various gender, religious and culture theories, are methodological
approaches from, inter alia, cultural anthropology, post-colonial studies and literary studies. These complement the needs of
the graduate seminar and attempt to keep apace of the rapidly evolving international discourse in gender studies and religion.