This weekend I have relocated to my old home town, Trondheim. In the coming few months I’m going to fill an associate professor position, temporarily, due to a set of complicated circumstances that I’ll not go into here. Having left the Center for History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents in Amsterdam behind, I’ll now be found at the newly restructured Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). My office and all teaching happens at campus Dragvoll, which looks pretty much like a giant greenhouse, in a rural and woodlands area on the outskirts of town. Certainly a change of scenery from Amsterdam’s overcrowded streets!
Teaching here starts in three weeks, and I’m quite looking forward to giving the second-year BA course on “Contemporary Western Religion” (Vestlig samtidsreligion). I’ll probably write more about it later, since it contains some seriously juicy stuff. We are going to cover UFO-religions, Scientology, doomsday and suicide “cults”, neopaganism, psychedelia and neoshamanism, parapsychology, occultism, popular (oc)culture, and that contested old term, “new age”, to mention some highlights. All of this is designed to engage critically with theoretical models concerning secularisation, disenchantmet, religious change, and to illustrate sociological models of cult formation and social action, and so on and so forth. I’ve also added an extra historical dimension, placing the contemporary “weird stuff” in the context of the older “weird stuff” associated with “esotericism”. The recent volume on Contemporary Esotericism that I edited with Kennet Granholm will come in handy for this.
There’s a lot of ground to cover in 14 weeks, but if it can take the students’ confusion to a higher level, I’ll be most happy.