(Call for Applications) Image Prohibition and the Monotheistic Triangle (PhD Program in Berlin)




2 PhD-­‐Positions

E 13/TV-­‐L, 50 %, Third-­‐Party Financing




The  Selma  Stern  Zentrum  für  Jüdische  Studien  Berlin-­‐Brandenburg  invites  applications  for  2  PhD-­‐ positions from September 1st, 2018 to March 31st, 2022.


The  PhD-­‐students  are  expected  to  work  in  the  research  area  ‘The  Monotheistic  Triangle’  on  the topic ‘Image Prohibition and Art Theory’.


The   PhD-­‐students   will   be   officially   enrolled   at   the   Freie   Univeraität   Berlin   (Fachbereich Geschichts-­‐ und Kulturwissenschaften – Seminar für Katholische Theologie), under the direction of Prof. Dr. Rainer Kampling. Their positions are located at the Selma Stern Zentrum für Jüdische Studien Berlin-­‐ Brandenburg and are founded by the BMBF.



Within the research area ‘The Monotheistic Triangle’ a research group on ‘Image Prohibition and Art Theory’  will  be  established.  It  is  a  three-­‐member  group,  where  the  two  PhD-­‐students  are  expected  to work under the direction of a postdoc (Dr. Beniamino Fortis). The goal is to deal with a common theme from three different points of view.


Only PhD-­‐projects that fit within the thematic frame of the research group will be considered.


Research Area – The Monotheistic Triangle

A fundamental assumption, in this research area, is that a meaningful inquiry into any of the three monotheistic traditions cannot be carried out, without taking the other two into consideration. The research focus is thus set on relationships, connections, and interactions between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.


Particular attention is paid to those topics that are dealt with in all monotheistic traditions and  can thus be studied from three different perspectives.


Research Group – Image prohibition and Art Theory

The prohibition of images lends itself particularly well as such an interdisciplinary theme, because the legitimacy of pictorial representation is at issue in every monotheistic tradition. In each of them, moreover, image prohibition has experienced a manifold impact history, which of course includes also the ban’s consequences for art theory.


The postdoc’s research focuses on the relationship between image prohibition and art theory from  a  Jewish  perspective.  It  is  thus  meant  as  part  of  a  wider  project,  in  which  two  additional  PhD-­‐ projects are expected to deal with the same topic from a Christian and/or an Islamic point of view.


Doctoral and postdoctoral works must share the same theoretical structure, which acts as a common denominator between them and consists in two aspects. More precisely, each project must 1) determine the different ways the prohibition of images is conceived of and 2) analyze the influence the prohibition exerts on modern picture and art theories.


Suggestions for a possible PhD-­‐project

The  postdoc’s  project  investigates  Hermann  Cohen’s  (1842-­‐1918)  philosophy.  For  he  sake  of  group cohesiveness, preference will be given to PhD-­‐projects that focus on modern and contemporary subject matters.


Possible research topics are:

  • § ‚Abstraction’ und ‚Spirituality’ in Islamic Art as Consequences of Image Prohibition.
  • § Image Prohibition and its Interpretations in the Haskala.


  • § Rabbinical Debates on the Prohibition of Images in the 19. Century.
  • § Alex Stock’s Picture Theology Dealing with Image Prohibition.
  • § Image Prohibition and Hans Urs von Balthasar’s Conception of ‚Herrlichkeit’.
  • § Aestheticization of Art as a Reaction to Image Prohibition. The Case Study of Odo Marquard.


Requirements and Duties

Applicants should have completed their Master’s degrees in philosophy, theology, Jewish studies, or cultural studies no longer than two years before the application deadline. Good command of English and German is expected. Knowledge of another language that is relevant to he project is desirable.


Besides  working  on  their  own  project,  the  PhD-­‐students  are  expected  to  contribute  to  other collective works, to take part in other academic activities, and to collaborate in organizing academic events.


Application Documents

  • § Curriculum Vitae
  • § Exposé (in German or English) of max. 8 pages with:
  • Aim and Scope of the PhD-­‐project
  • Status Quaestionis
  • Explanation of how the PhD-­‐project contributes to scholarship
  • Explanation of how the PhD-­‐project fits within the research group
  • Applicant’s previous works (if any)
  • Method
  • Work Plan
  • Names of two referents



The application deadline is on May 7th, 2018.

Applications should be sent in hard or electronic form (in a single file!) to:

Freie Universität Berlin

Fachbereich Geschichts-­‐ und Kulturwissenschaften Seminar für Katholische Theologie

Prof. Dr. Rainer Kampling Fabeckstr. 23-­‐25

14195 Berlin (Dahlem)

E-­‐Mail: rainer.kampling@fu-­‐berlin.de

For information, please contact:

Dr. Beniamino Fortis: Mail: b.fortis@selma-­‐stern-­‐zentrum.de

 Applications from qualified female scholars are particularly welcome. Severely disabled applicants with equivalent qualifications will be given preferential consideration. People with an immigration background are specifically encouraged to apply.

Since we will not return your documents, please submit copies in the application only.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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