Panels at the Upcoming AAR Conference

Here is an update from Thomas Wilson concerning the American Academy of Religion conference that will be held this weekend:

Please note the two panels sponsored by the Confucian Traditions Group. We especially encourage you to attend the business meeting following the Saturday afternoon session (A17-316). We’ve also listed a few other panels that might be of interest to you.

Comparative Religious Ethics Group and Confucian Traditions Group
Theme: New Directions in Confucian Ethics
Alexus McLeod, University of Dayton, Presiding
Saturday – 9:00 AM-11:30 AM

Over the past few decades scholars have read Confucian texts in light of ethical theories such as deontology, consequentialism, and, more recently, virtue ethics. This panel engages this conversation and demonstrates how themes of dependence and vulnerability in early Confucian texts push the field of Confucian ethics in new directions. The participants raise questions such as: What insights do early Confucians provide for revising modern conceptions of autonomy? How does the Liji’s portrayal of ritual challenge contemporary theories of moral performance? And how does the early Confucian emphasis on roles provide us with a way to reconceptualize the very notion of a role or relationship? By building on the insights of various ethical theories (especially virtue ethics), each paper demonstrates how issues of vulnerability and dependence shape our moral world and determine the scope and limits of moral development.

Cheryl Cottine, Indiana University, Roles, Relationships, and Chinese Ethics: A Comparative Study
Aaron Stalnaker, Indiana University, Mastery and Dependence in Early Confucianism
Michael Ing, Indiana University, A Tragic Theory of Confucian Ritual

Responding:Jung Lee, Northeastern University

Confucian Traditions Group and Korean Religions Group
Theme: Good Intentions and their Surprising Results: The Unintended Consequences of Confucianism in East Asia
Tao Jiang, Rutgers University, Presiding
Saturday – 4:00 PM-6:30 PM

New religions are created to either reform or replace the existing status quo. Those religions that succeed quickly spread out to new places and peoples. Given the different set of conditions, enacting the new religion’s practices might lead to results that are different than intended and anything but benign. Our papers look at both the unintended effects of Confucian beliefs and practices and the ways in which rulers used them in an unintended manner. The first paper examines the disastrous effects of making the three-year mourning rites mandatory for all educated men. The second looks at how the Qianlong emperor manipulated the Neo-Confucian concept of loyalty to castigate anyone who served two dynasties. The third argues that Korean dictators have used Confucianism to justify their authoritarian regimes. The fourth notes that Confucian harmony originally meant building trust between the ruler and the ruled, but that now it means suppressing dissent.

Tomasz Sleziak, Adam Mickiewicz University, The Lowered Economic Potential and Administrational Efficiency as a Direct Result of the Prominence of Confucian Metaphysical Discourse during Joseon Period Korea

Keith Knapp, The Citadel, Going through the Motions: Reactions to the Implementation of the Three Year Mourning Rites
Hsueh-Yi Lin, University of Wisconsin, The Politics of Loyalty in High Qing Loyalist Historiography
Ha Jung Lee, Boston University, Korean Confucianism as a Tool of the Political Hegemony of Dictatorship
Mee-Yin Mary Yuen, Graduate Theological Union, Freedom of Expression as Taboo in Building a Harmonious Society: Unintended Consequences of the Confucian Notion of Harmony in China

Mark Halperin, University of California, Davis

Business Meeting:
Thomas A. Wilson, Hamilton College
Yong Huang, Kutztown University

Also of interest:

A17-227 Religions in Chinese and Indian Cultures: A Comparative Perspective Group
Theme: Xunzi from Classical Indian Perspectives: Complexity and Ambiguity
Tao Jiang, Rutgers University, Presiding
Saturday – 1:00 PM-3:30 PM
Theme: The Xunzi and Indian Thought: The Xunzi represents a high point in classical Chinese intellectual development. Ideas of the natural and the traditional, order and chaos, disciplinary naming, transformation of desires and inclinations through ritual, discourse on the transcendence, cultivation of virtue, and many others, found in the Xunzi are ripe and appropriate for reading from classical Indian perspectives such as from the Dharma sastras or Mimamsa or even the Mahabharata. Methodology: Textual ambiguity and complexity in the comparative study of Chinese and Indian texts: a major challenge in comparative approaches to texts is that they tend to simplify or homogenize the message of the texts and perspectives under comparison. Our panels will seek to preserve the integrity – ambiguity and complexity – of texts and traditions, even while presenting nuanced and constructive re/readings.

Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad, Lancaster University, Order: Nature, Society and Self
Laurie Patton, Duke University, Reading Xunzi through Dharma and Nama
David Lawrence, University of North Dakota, Xunzi and Selected Indian Philosophers on the Purposes, Practices and Limits of Argument
Alexus McLeod, University of Dayton, The Function and Source of Ritual Duty in the Xunzi and the Purva Mimamsa Sutra

Michael Puett, Harvard University

Business Meeting:
Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad, Lancaster University
Tao Jiang, Rutgers University

A19-103 Arts, Literature, and Religion Section
Theme: The Post-Secular Turn: Rethinking Theory and Method in Religion and Literature
Larry Bouchard, University of Virginia, Presiding
Monday – 9:00 AM-11:30 AM

This panel seeks to offer renewed assessments of “religious and literary” uncertainties in the current postsecular moment. Broadening our scope beyond the all-too-familiar Euro-American context, we start with two early modern case studies and then discuss two literary concepts in the modern period. Topics range from John Foxe’s (1517–1587) chronicles of the deaths of dissenters in Elizabethan England, Li Zhi’s (1527–1602) creative employment of Confucian and Buddhist vocabularies in his commentaries on historical biographies, dramas, and vernacular novels in late imperial China, the concept of irony as a critical tool for imagining intersections of African American religious and literary expression, and Margaret Atwood’s conceptualization of “wonder tales” that embrace science fiction, fantasy, and other variations of the realist novel per se. Together we investigate the discursive formations and transformation of religion and literature and raise this question in particular: Where can (or must) the field go, particularly given the fractiousness of its current formation?

M. Cooper Harriss, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Zhange Ni, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
David Anderson, University of Oklahoma
Ying Zhang, Ohio State University

Responding: Brian Britt, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

A19-203 Daoist Studies Group
Theme: Paradox and the Chinese Ritual Imagination
Thomas Wilson, Hamilton College, Presiding
Monday – 1:00 PM-3:00 PM

Chinese rituals are, like rituals in all times and places, full of paradoxes. This panel will show that paradoxes inherent in ritual texts and performances reveal much about images of the cosmos, divinity, and the body; about the practicalities of self-cultivation and social transformations; even about the notion of ritual itself. Our panel attempts to connect the study of Daoism to current discussions within the greater field of Religious Studies concerning the importance of paradoxical thinking in religious traditions, by exploring how paradoxes work in specific Daoist ritual texts and performances. The panel places three disparate rituals in comparative conversation in order to 1) illumine the different kinds of paradoxes that Daoist ritual programs bear, and 2) explore what those paradoxes reveal about the semiotic systems and/or social worlds assumed by each.

Ori Tavor, University of Pennsylvania, The Inherent Paradoxicality of Theorizing Ritual: A Chinese Perspective
Joshua Capitanio, University of the West, Sublimation and Soteriology in Daoist Practice
David Mozina, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, Paradox, Divine Reflexivity, and Daoist Ordination Oaths

Responding: Kimberley Patton, Harvard University

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