ESSWE home


  • 2010-02-03 16:08 | ESSWE admin (Administrator)
    Edited by Susanne Scholz (Perkins School of Theology/Southern Methodist University, USA) and Caroline Vander Stichele (University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands) A key text for Jews and Christians is Genesis 1-3, which recounts the story of the creation and of the Garden of Eden. These two episodes have had an enormous effect on subsequent Western thought in terms of the emergence (as well as the rejection) of science, attitudes towards human nature, and the construction of social and cultural norms. For this volume we are interested in papers that discuss, compare, and/or analyze esoteric readings or appropriations of Genesis 1-3 from antiquity to the present, including esoteric literatures such as the Gnostic, Dead Sea, and Nag Hammadi libraries, the Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism, and Hermeticism, as well as esoteric thinkers, such as Jacob Boehme, Emanuel Swedenborg, Eliphas Lévi, Helena Blavatsky, Rudolf Steiner, René Guénon, etc. Possible topics include creation myths, gender, fate and free will, concepts of knowledge/wisdom/gnosis, the origin of good and evil, life and death, the idea of a “fall,” the afterlife, as well as how esoteric interpretations address issues of gender or race, as well as other social categories, and explorations of experiential esoteric approaches of Genesis 1-3. Also welcome are more theoretical-historical oriented contributions discussing the issue of how to integrate esotericism with biblical studies, as well as discussions of what has been done in this respect in the past. Proposals, including a (provisional) title, short abstract (150-250 words) and biographical note, are due with the editors before the end of February 2010. Articles that are accepted are due before the end of January 2011. Susanne Scholz () Caroline Vander Stichele ()


  • 2010-01-18 16:11 | ESSWE admin (Administrator)
    Title: A new program for the academic study of esotericism and related subjects in the USA As of 2009, the Religious Studies Department at Rice University offers an area of concentration in Gnosticism, Esotericism and Mysticism (GEM) for PhD students, with graduate seminars in all three areas held on a rotating basis. For further information on the program see here: http://reli.rice.edu/Content.aspx?id=284


  • 2010-01-08 16:12 | ESSWE admin (Administrator)
    We invite articles for a forthcoming book, _Esotericism, Religion, and Politics_, the third volume in the Studies in Esotericism series, this one focusing on the political implications or aspects of esoteric religious groups, figures, or movements. What are the political associations of particular figures, groups, or movements within Western esotericism? In what senses can a particular esoteric figure or movement be seen as political? Some modern authors, for instance, Julius Evola, and indeed many affiliated with Traditionalism, often are identified as politically to the Right. Is there an esotericism that lends itself to the Left? What does it mean to say that a given religious figure or group within Western esotericism is "radical"? How have charges of magical practice been allied with political accusations against minority groups, and in what ways? Are there political implications for particular variants of mysticism? We expect that articles will offer insight into the political implications of historical or contemporary aspects of Western esotericism. We anticipate that, like the previous volumes in the series, this one will be divided into thematic sections that might include "Magic," "Mysticism," "Traditionalism," or "New Religions," to give only some examples. Articles should be submitted with endnotes, and according to the Chicago Manual of Style in most regards, and if any illustrations are proposed, they should be submitted as separate 300 dpi .tiff files. Authors are responsible for obtaining permission to publish any images. You can find details on previous volumes in the series, and updates on this current book in the series, at www.aseweb.org or www.esoteric.msu.edu Please send formal proposals (a paragraph or two with a title is sufficient) for possible relevant articles to  by February 15, 2010. Completed articles proposed for the volume are due by August 15, 2010, and should be sent as electronic files to , with a cc: to Arthur Versluis at versluis (at) msu.edu, to whom relevant queries may be directed.


  • 2009-07-04 16:15 | ESSWE admin (Administrator)
    Robert Collis receives the ESSWE Thesis Prize for 2007-09 for an outstanding European Ph.D. thesis on Western Esotericism, “The Petrine Instauration: Religion, Esotericism and Science at the Court of Peter the Great, 1689-1725”.


  • 2009-05-29 16:16 | ESSWE admin (Administrator)
    Dr. Peter Forshaw has been elected as Assistant Professor for the History of Western Esotericism in the Early Modern period. He will succeed Dr. Kocku von Stuckrad who moves to the University of Groningen as Professor of Religious Studies. Dr. Forshaw's appointment at GHF will begin on september 1, 2009. Peter Forshaw researched his doctorate in Intellectual History at Birkbeck, University of London, and was then awarded a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship for research into the history of early modern magic. He is currently an Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of English Studies at the University of Strathclyde, a Research Fellow in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Cambridge, and Honorary Fellow in the University of Exeter's School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and in the School of English and Humanities at Birkbeck. He is co-convenor (with Stephen Clucas) of EMPHASIS: Early Modern Philosophy and the Scientific Imagination Seminar, which has been held monthly during the academic year in the Institute of English Studies, London, since 2003, and is elected council member and webmaster of both the Society for Renaissance Studies and SHAC: The Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry. Peter's research focuses on the confluence of learned magic, science and religion in early modern Europe. At Strathclyde he has been working with Professor Jonathan Sawday on the 'Art of Fire', a project investigating the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century alchemical and magical works in The James Young Collection at the University of Strathclyde. In Cambridge he has been working with Dr Lauren Kassell and Dr Rob Ralley on The Casebooks Project: An Edition and Database of Simon Forman's and Richard Napier's Astrological Casebooks, 1596-1643. He is preparing a book The Mage's Images: Occult Theosophy in Heinrich Khunrath's Early Modern Oratory and Laboratory, for Brill's Studies in Intellectual History.


  • 2009-03-02 16:17 | ESSWE admin (Administrator)
    The Center for “History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents” (GHF) at the University of Amsterdam, Faculty of Humanities, is looking for An Assistant Professor (m/f) History of Western Esotericism in the Early Modern Period The Center for “History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents” (Geschiedenis van de Hermetische Filosofie en verwante stromingen; GHF) at the University of Amsterdam (www.amsterdamhermetica.nl) is a pioneering institution for research and teaching in the academic study of Western Esotericism. It concentrates in particular on the history of Renaissance Platonism and Hermetism, prisca theologia and occulta philosophia in the early modern period and their later developments; alchemical, magical, astrological, Paracelsian and Rosicrucian currents; Jewish and Christian kabbalah; Christian theosophy and Illuminism; and various occultist and related developments during the 19th and 20th centuries, including the New Age movement. GHF has currently a vacancy for the position of Assistant Professor (“Universitair Docent”) for the History of Western Esotericism in the Early Modern Period. A successful candidate will have a good record of high quality academic publications focused on one or more currents in this domain, and solid general knowledge of the domain as a whole. As a generalist in the study of Western Esotericism in the Early Modern Period s/he can teach all its main aspects on both undergraduate and graduate levels. - Research. The Assistant Professor will be expected to initiate personal research projects in the field of esoteric currents in Western culture since the Renaissance, focusing on the early modern period (15th-18th cent.), and to publish actively in the appropriate scholarly media. S/he will also be expected to collaborate in common research activities with the other staff members of the subdepartment, and with staff members of other departements of the Faculty if the occasion calls for it. - Teaching. GHF offers a “minor” Western esotericism in the context of the Bachelor program Religious Studies (in Dutch), and a full-time trajectory “Mysticism and Western Esotericism” in the context of the Master program Religious Studies (in English). The Assistant Professor will be expected to teach courses in both programs, both in lecture and in seminar settings. If necessary, s/he is expected to master the Dutch language during the first two years of the appointment. - Organization/Administration. Within reasonable limits the Assistant Professor may be asked to be active in one or more special committees of the Faculty. Candidates should fit the following profile: Ph.D. (or equivalent) in a discipline of the humanities. Specialization in, or relevant to, one or more areas of historical research belonging to the domain of “Western esotericism” in the early modern period (15th-18th century), having resulted in academic publications of high quality. Active interest in interdisciplinary research and teamwork in the context of the humanities and the social sciences. Good didactic qualities. Good command of Latin and English non-native Dutch speakers must achieve fluency in Dutch within two years. Willingness to develop in a multidisciplinary capacity in order to be able to participate in multiple areas of the Faculty's curriculum. Appointment This is a temporary appointment for two years, starting on 1 September 2009. Satisfactory performance is subject for a permanent appointment. The gross monthly salary will range from € 3195 (scale 11) to € 4970 (scale 12), based on a full-time appointment (38 hours a week). Letters of application, with C.V. and list of publications, should be sent to: Prof. Dr. W.J. Hanegraaff, Fac. Of Humanities/Department of Art, Religion and Cultural Studies, Oude Turfmarkt 147, NL-1012 GC Amsterdam, The Netherlands. e-mail:  For general information, contact Mrs. H. Nobach (secretary) at the same address. Email  Deadline for letters of application: 23 March 2009.


  • 2009-03-01 16:19 | ESSWE admin (Administrator)
    Call for Papers for a panel, to be held at the EASR conference “Religion in the History of European Culture” Messina, 14-17 September 2009 Panel: ‘The presence of esoteric currents and ideas in Italy from the 18th century to our days’ Convenor: Marco Pasi (University of Amsterdam) A significant amount of research has been done in Italy on the history of esoteric ideas, but this has been mainly focused on the late Middle Ages or the early modern period. From the presence of magic, alchemy, and astrology in medieval thought, to the revival of Hermetic and Neoplatonic ideas during the Renaissance up to the Scientific Revolution, the importance of this field of research for the history of Italian culture has been widely acknowledged. But the permanence of these ideas and cultural traditions in Italy in the period that begins with the Enlightenment, has perhaps received less attention from academic scholars, and still offers many interesting, potentially fruitful threads for research. These include for instance the influence in Italy of Swedenborgianism and of animal magnetism, the spreading of an esoterically oriented high-degree freemasonry, the impact of spiritualism, occultism, traditionalism, neopaganism, and, more recently, of New Age ideas. The announcement of the preparation of a volume devoted to the history of esotericism in Italy in the prestigious series of the Annali Einaudi is perhaps the occasion to focus on these different currents and ideas in the late modern period. Proposals focusing on historiographical aspects, i.e. in particular on the history of the study of esoteric currents and ideas in the 20th century in Italy will also be particularly welcome. Proposals can be submitted either in Italian or in English. Both languages will be accepted for the panel. Deadline for proposal submission is 31 March 2009 Proposals, together with a brief curriculum, should be sent to Marco Pasi: m.pasi@uva.nl For more information on the conference and registration see:

    http://ww2.unime.it/easr09/eng/index.html
    http://www.easr.eu


  • 2008-12-17 16:21 | ESSWE admin (Administrator)
    "The Threat and Allure of the Magical in Literature, Language, Philosophy, History and the Arts" 17th Annual Interdisciplinary German Studies Conference at the University of California, Berkeley March 13-15, 2009 Dating back to the 9th Century Old High German Merseburg Incantations (die Merseburger Zaubersprüche) and their influence on the fairy-tale world of the Brothers Grimm, references to the magical boil forth from a wide range of cultural forms, from Mozart’s The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte) in music to Werner Herzog’s Invincible in film. In silent film, modern literature and the arts, magic both heralded and haunted an artistic revolution in which the avant-garde and the occult recurrently intersected. In critical theory, ideology is often described in terms of a spell. Accordingly, this conference presents an opportunity to explore these cultural encounters with the magical and further inquire why this space of radical alterity carries such an allure and/or threat. Thus, we invite scholars from all disciplines to submit paper proposals in German or English on the questions of the magical and its role in the German-speaking world. Possible topics include but are not limited to: The magical in art, film, music, pop-culture and history The occult and the avant-garde Nazism and the occult The magical in the language of critical thought The mesmerizing, magical aspects of ideology The magical in courtly culture, Renaissance and the Early Modern Linguistic alchemy Sprachmagie The magical in philosophy (for example, the Veil of Maya in the works of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche) Magical Realism Astrology and Alchemy in literature Magic in fairy tales and folklore The weird, strange and the other The living dead/creatures of myth and magic in film and literature The language of incantations and spells.


  • 2008-10-26 16:23 | ESSWE admin (Administrator)
    The 2nd International Conference of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism will be devoted to the theme "Capitals of European esotericism and transcultural dialogue." The conference will be organized by the University of Strasbourg (Equipe d’accueil d’Etudes germaniques, EA 1341/UDS) and the Maison interuniversitaire des Sciences de l’Homme-Alsace (MISHA) in partnership with the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE). It will be hold between 2 and 4 July 2009 in Strasbourg, France, Maison interuniversitaire des Sciences de l’Homme-Alsace. CALL FOR PAPERS During recent decades, the role and impact of esoteric currents within western culture has elicited a growing number of scholarly works. This study brings into play a complex pattern of intellectual discourses and historical phenomena, in close relationship not merely with political and religious spheres, but also with different fields of knowledge and their processes of elaboration. In 1998, an international conference on the theme “Mystics, Mysticism and Modernity” was organized by the Marc Bloch University of Strasbourg with the aim of studying the impact of esoteric currents on the construction of modernity in society, art and literature at the start of the twentieth century. Following on this research into the connections between esotericism and culture, the present conference aims to make a lasting contribution to the writing of a “ different” cultural history, integrating a detailed analysis of the part that esoteric currents have played in the building, development and interactions of national and of cross-national identities. Esotericism and Spatiality Scholarship in the field of esotericism has hitherto often been dominated by a “monographic” bias, a tendency to privilege the study of individual authors or specific currents considered particularly relevant to a given context or period, and therefore stressing the chronological dimension of the topic. Without forsaking historical methods, the conference on “Capitals of European Esotericism and transcultural dialogue” proposes a somewhat different approach, underlining the importance of geographical and intellectual patterns, networks, interactions and exchanges, with the purpose of illustrating the relevance of the “spatial” dimension of culture. The goal of this conference is, thus, to contribute to the delineation of a landscape of Western esoteric currents by sketching a transhistorical map of their places of emergence and their main centers of diffusion. Following the inaugural conference of the ESSWE held in Tübingen in July 2007 and devoted to “The Construction of Tradition”, it has been decided to dedicate the conference in Strasbourg–itself an important “capital of European esotericism”–to the complementary themes of locality and spatiality. The concept of “Capitals of European esotericism” finds support–inter alia–in research integrating the “spatial turn” in cultural sciences and history, as well as in geocritical approaches to the study of discourse, more particularly envisaged in their spatio-cultural rooting. The birth and development of a plurality of Western esoteric currents will accordingly be considered as essentially linked to certain privileged loci, where a number of diverse traditions, influences and activities have converged and crystallized, for complex historical and cultural reasons which it will be our task to investigate. Focus-point: the city as a crucible of cultural identity for European esoteric currents The various threads of Western esotericism have evolved from and around a number of intellectual centers linked, on the one hand, to local and/or national cultures and, on the other hand, also subject to cultural transfers and exchanges involving elements belonging to foreign horizons, notably oriental ones. Urban communities have been shown to play a major part in these processes of cultural interaction. Certain capitals or cities have acted–sometimes over prolonged periods of time–as diffusion centers for specific currents or disciplines, such as alchemy or Freemasonry (for example, Venice, Avignon, and Marseilles ). Of particular relevance in this perspective is the case of “border-towns”, bearing the stamp of a dual culture or acting as intercultural foyers, which appear for these reasons to qualify even better as places of emergence of such currents (for example, Trieste, Strasburg, Prague, and Cordoba). Interest may also focus on the common trajectories of economic centers and high places of esoteric thought and activity, and on their social imbrications, as well as on the related topic of patronage which, simultaneously attracting and stabilizing persons and activities in certain spots, nonetheless stimulates the circulation of people and ideas between them (the Medici in Florence, Gonzague in Mantua, Rudolf II in Prague, etc). In the same way, major printing and publishing centers (such as P. Perna’s office in Basel, the Beringos Brothers in Lyon, Diederichs in Munich), or the intellectual exchanges between rival cultural poles (such as Venice and Florence at the turn of the sixteenth century), also deserve attention. The study of such cultural phenomena may be conducted at different levels: - On a regional or national scale, emphasizing the many links existing between local cultures, prevailing political conditions, and the historical development of esoteric currents. - On a cross-cultural and supranational scale, taking into consideration the successive phases of the process of globalization of esotericism, notably relations between East and West. Another important issue is the literary activity fostered by these “capitals of European esotericism” throughout history, whether they have specifically given rise to a body of literature directly influenced by esoteric speculations and/or practices, or whether they are themselves the object of mythical/literary representation(s) in works of fiction dealing with, or influenced by, esotericism. Contributors to the conference are invited to use various scholarly methods and approaches from different disciplines: cultural history, art history, history of ideas and of Western esotericism, investigation of the socio-economic conditions of the production of fictional and literary works, etc. Examples of themes on which contributions will be welcome: - Mapping of Western Esotericism: identification of greater or lesser urban cultural centers linked with one or more specific currents of European esotericism: “masonic capitals”, centers for the diffusion of theosophical doctrines and writings (such as Amsterdam, Berleburg, London, Dornach), etc. - Economic and cultural exchanges, esoteric currents and the city: investigation of the interactions between commercial, intellectual, artistic and publishing activities as linked to the presence, development and productions of European esotericism (Lyon, Venice, Berlin, Florence, Paris). Some attention should also be given to the role and operation of esoteric periodicals or journals per se, as well as-more generally-to the presence of esoteric themes or events in cultural media. - Capitals of European esotericism and multi-cultural dialogue: Western esotericism and the reception of oriental literature and traditions (New York, Paris, Cairo, London). - Esotericism, fictional imagination and the City: artistic and literary works which display an intimate connection between esoteric themes and the (fictional or real) depiction of a given (or imaginary) city (such as Prague in G. Meyrink’s The Golem, or London in A. Machen’s The Three Impostors). Approaches combining several of these themes and/or perspectives are of course welcome. It should also be kept in mind that “Western esotericism” is by no means construed as limited to Christianity, but includes esoteric speculations and practices belonging to other religious cultures (such as Jewish Kabbalah and Neo-Sufism), whose complex (often long-standing and influential) interactions with Christian culture make them an integral part of “European esotericism”. Working languages: French, German & English. Conference Committee: Jean-Pierre Brach (Ecole pratique des Hautes-Etudes, Vème section, Paris, vice-president of ESSWE), Sylvain Briens (UDS), Aurélie Choné (UDS), Christine Maillard (UDS). Conference Chairman: Christine Maillard Proposals (title and short abstract) should be send to Christine Maillard, , with your name, academic position, and titles of major publications. Submission deadline : 30 November 2008.


  • 2008-10-14 16:25 | ESSWE admin (Administrator)
    The DFG Research Group "The Enlightenment in the Referential Context of Modern Esotericism" (Die Aufklärung im Bezugsfeld neuzeitlicher Esoterik) hosts an International Conference devoted to the topic "Enlightenment and Esotericism – Ways into Modernity" The conference, organized by the Interdisciplinary Center for European Enlightenment Studies (Interdisziplinäres Zentrum für die Erforschung der Europäischen Aufklärung (IZEA)), will take place in Halle, Germany, March 9-12, 2010. Following the conferences “Enlightenment and Esotericism” (Aufklärung und Esoterik) in 1997 at the Herzog-August Library in Wolfenbüttel and “Esotericism in the Enlightenment” (Esoterik in der Aufklärung) in 2006 at the IZEA, now a third conference on this subject will pose the question: To what extent can the multi-faceted relationship between Enlightenment and Esotericism in the eighteenth century be considered as constitutive for Modernity?  The influence of the Enlightenment on Modernity has been much postulated and is an intrinsic constituent in the self-validation of Modernity. At the same time it is clear that Esotericism has also played an important role, right up to the present day. Yet what has been little known up to now is just what significance the mutual reciprocity between Enlightenment and Esotericism in the eighteenth century (and the resulting transformations from this relationship) have had.  Esotericism, as an aggregate of different historical streams of thought, can be identified through the reception of Hermeticism, Neo-Platonism and Cabbala, as well as through the assimilation of the so-called old sciences of Alchemy, Magic and Astrology from the Renaissance on. During the course of the Early Modern period, related movements such as Paracelsianism, Rosicrucianism, Theosophy and Freemasonry developed out of these streams of thought. As the first two conferences have shown, these various esoteric currents continued to have an impact during the Enlightenment, whether they were negated, integrated or transformed.  What role then did the Enlightenment play in the rise of “modern” Esotericism? What about the Enlightenment itself, which developed its profile not least by engaging with esoteric streams of thought? Through which paths – whether through continual or interrupted transmission – did the resulting manifestations of the encounter between the Enlightenment and Esotericism arrive at the later Modern period? What accounts for the affinity between Modernity and the artistic-literary, philosophical, theological, scientific or historical-political expressions of the exchange between Enlightenment and Esotericism?  The conference Enlightenment and Esotericism – Ways into Modernity would like to dedicate itself to these questions. Contributions are encouraged from all history-oriented disciplines which investigate the major issues, which reflect on methodical approaches to answering the questions posed or which offer concrete case studies for discussion. The main focus will be on the “long eighteenth century,” that is, on topics dealing with the age of the Enlightenment itself as well as on topics addressing the transition into the first decades after 1800. Nonetheless contributions which treat the nineteenth or twentieth centuries exclusively are also welcome if they take the main theme of the conference into consideration.  Proposals are requested by March 31, 2009 and should include a lecture title, a short abstract of one-half to a full page and a brief vita. Please address all submissions to:  IZEA  Franckeplatz 1/54  D – 06110 Halle or, by e-mail, to:


Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software