PAPERS Resources

AAR Annual Meeting
San Diego, CA
November 23-26, 2019

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Contemplative Studies Unit

Statement of Purpose: 

This program unit aims to strengthen and develop contemplative studies as an academic field of inquiry, especially in the context of religious studies and the AAR. Our Unit provides a forum for:

• The investigation of contemplative practice and experience, considered inclusively and comprehensively
• Critical discussions on the field itself, including theoretical and interpretive issues
• The application of contemplative practice to academic life and university culture, including the possible contribution of “contemplative pedagogy” to teaching and learning

The Unit thus aims to gather together currently diffused groups as well as dislocated, marginalized, and underrepresented individuals in the academy. To this end, we encourage research that is topical, tradition-specific, comparative, and cross-cultural. We also invite scholars to investigate contemplative practice and experience in ways that traverse and transcend the boundaries of traditions, disciplines, and research methodologies.

Call for Papers: 

● Looking Awry at Humanistic and Scientific Research, Contact Person: Niki Clements, Niki.Clements@Rice.edu -
We invite submissions for a panel that explores critical issues challenging the interface between the humanities and the sciences in the study of contemplation. We will explore both the possibilities for how humanists might engage scientific research as complements or challenges to their research, and the necessity of critically recognizing a separation between humanistic and scientific research when considering different epistemologies, cultural hierarchies, and funding structures (amongst other issues).


● Locating Contemplation beyond Traditions, Contact Person: Jared Lindahl, jared_lindahl@brown.edu -
While religious traditions often emphasize contemplative experiences and discourses, attempts to locate analogues outside of religious traditions can bring clarity to the definition and scope of “contemplation.” We invite submission that explores these issues by making a case for a reading of a selected phenomenon in the visual arts, performing arts, cinema, music, or literature as “contemplative.”


● The Role of Affect and Emotion in Contemplative Traditions, Contact Person: Loriliai Biernacki, loriliai.biernacki@colorado.edu -
One of the central dimensions of contemplation is engagement with human emotions, even while emotions are evaluated differently in diverse religious traditions, and methods of working with emotions vary widely. What are the goals of engaging emotions, and how might they relate to knowledge, insight, or wisdom? What methods arise for this engagement?


● Meta-Awareness in Contemplation (Co-sponsorship with the Cognitive Science and Religion Unit), Contact Person: Michael Sheehy, Ms4qm@UVA.edu -
Meta-awareness – i.e. awareness of the contents of experiential consciousness – is a critical operation of many contemplative practice techniques, and is of increasing relevance to the ongoing dialogue between historical contemplative traditions and the cognitive sciences. Coupled with the study of attention and mind-wandering, inextricable with the study of mindfulness meditation, inquiry into the features of meta-awareness (and its siblings’ meta-cognition and meta-consciousness) raises important philosophical and empirical questions about the nature of cognition and conceptuality, to what extent awareness is contingent on concepts, the interior dynamics of contemplation, and the recognition of emotional experiences. This panel invites papers to engage in an interdisciplinary discussion about the features and operations of meta-awareness, and such implications for understanding related religious phenomena and the human mind.

● Panel on Introducing Contemplative Studies by Louis Komjathy, for a possible co-sponsored session with the Christian Spirituality Unit.

Method: 
PAPERS
Process: 
Proposals are anonymous to chairs and steering committee members until after final acceptance/rejection
Comments: 
We are a model of fair and transparent evaluation. We endeavor to evaluate paper and panel proposals on academic merit alone
Leadership: 
ChairSteering Committee