Esotericism at the AAR in San Diego 2014? Urgent CfP

The deadline for submitting papers to this year’s American Academy of Religion (AAR), in sunny San Diego, is fast approaching. That means time is running out if you want to present a paper on Western esotericism, too. The Western Esotericism Group of the AAR has a pretty diverse call for papers out, and entertains possibilities of several panels including collaborative ones (with e.g. the Afro-American Religious History Group and the Queer Studies group). The ESSWE, now as an associated organisation of the AAR, is also opening up for separate panels. So if you want to take part in what is going to be one of the biggest conference events for esotericism scholarship this year (besides the ASE’s biannual conference), it’s time to finish up that paper proposal! I should also add that the Esotericism Group is up for review this year, so ensuring high quality and good turnout really does matter to the future of esotericism panels at the AAR. Worth keeping in mind.

Below is the full CfP:

This Group invites paper proposals on the following topics:

• Lived esotericism: In the last fifteen years the concept of “lived religion” has gained attention from scholars and has been at the basis of a growing number of researches and publications. The Group would like to explore the possibility to apply this concept to the study of Western esotericism. Western esotericism has often been studied by focusing on texts and doctrines, more rarely on the actual experiences of esotericists trying to translate those texts and doctrines into lived, daily practice. The predominant approach based on intellectual history has perhaps led to an idealized, partial image of the social and cultural dimensions of Western esotericism. Please note that proposals should not focus necessarily on contemporary Western esotericism. Proposals on earlier periods will also be welcome.

• Esotericism and imaginative narratives: Possible topics include but are not limited to mystical or initiatory rites presented as fiction, novels that deal extensively with the transmission of esoteric knowledge, and esotericism in popular culture and film. As always, the Group seeks papers from as wide a range of historical periods as possible.

• Transformative and performative aspects of gender in esoteric practices (for a possible joint session with the Queer Studies in Religion Group)

• Western esotericism and African American culture: There is in recent years a growing interest in the study of Western esotericism in the context of African American culture. The Group welcomes proposals on this topic (for a possible joint session with the Afro-American Religious History Group).

• Western esotericism and ritual studies: We are interested in receiving proposals that focus on the way in which esoteric rituals can be related to nature, the environment, or ecological concerns (for a possible joint session with the Ritual Studies Group)



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