The rumour already broke yesterday on Twitter and Facebook (a bit earlier than planned, I think), that a new journal is being launched: Correspondences: An Online Journal for the Academic Study of Western Esotericism.
This is an innovative initiative in several respects. By being all online and open access, it aims to provide “a wider forum of debate regarding issues and currents in Western esotericism than has previously been possible”. Furthermore, however, it also aims to mobilize a currently unused demographic potential in the study of esotericism:
Correspondences is committed to publishing work of a high academic standard as determined by a peer-review process, but does not require academic credentials as prerequisite for publication. Students and non-affiliated academics are encouraged to join established scholars in submitting insightful, well-researched articles that offer new ideas, positions, or information to the field.
In other words, it is a refreshing initiative that aims to be true to some of the most basic ideals of academic/scientific scholarship: that knowledge is available to everyone (thus must also be free), and that it is produced by a rigid application of “organized scepticism”, a communal, critical practice that is embodied by the peer-review process and otherwise blind to social, institutional, geographic, or political background. (Yes, I am echoing old Merton’s CUDOS here). In the the field of esotericism, I think these are very good norms to hold on to, and I am hopeful that this journal may establish itself as a nice and fresh competitor to already existing journals (e.g. Aries), catering to a somewhat different, expanded demographic, and allowing for a much more flexible and up-to-date exchange by being web-based, open, and free.
I have said enough already, so I will give the word to the editors, Aren Roukema and Jimmy Elwing (both current Research MA-students at the University of Amsterdam), who have published a call for papers on the Correspondences website:
Correspondences is a new, biannual online journal devoted to the academic study of Western esotericism. The journal seek to create a public academic forum devoted to discussion and exposition of issues and currents in the field commonly known as ‘Western esotericism.’ The editors acknowledge that the use of “Western esotericism” as an umbrella term for a widely variant field of alternate scientific and religious ideas is problematic. Thus, articles related to esoteric currents from other global cultural centres may be accepted if a connection to alternative currents in “western culture” is implicitly established. The following list of areas of study is provided for clarification:
Alchemy, Anthroposophy, Astrology, Eco-spirituality, Esotericism in art, literature, and music, Freemasonry, Geomancy, Gnosticism, Hermeticism, Illuminism, Initiatory secret societies, Kabbalah, Magic, Mesmerism, Mysticism, Naturphilosophie, Neo-paganism, New Age, Occultism, Occulture, Paracelsianism, Rosicrucianism, Satanism, Spiritualism, Theosophy, Traditionalism, Ufology, Witchcraft.
Correspondences intends to promote a wide forum of interdisciplinary debate regarding such areas of study, and therefore does not require academic credentials as a prerequisite for publication. Students and non-affiliated academics are encouraged to join established researchers in submitting insightful, well-researched articles that offer new ideas, positions, or information to the field.
Deadline for submissions is February 28, 2013. Read about style guidelines and how to submit on the website.