Gnosis & Alterations of Consciousness: ESSWE Thesis Workshop

Flammarion woodcut altered

Time for Thesis Workshop in Amsterdam: “Gnosis & Alterations of Consciousness”

It’s an odd-numbered year, and it’s spring (sort of, some places). And it’s soon time for a new ESSWE Thesis Workshop in Amsterdam, the third one in the line (after this and this). In years when there is no ESSWE conference, these open workshops designed for MA and PhD candidates who are involved with some independent research and thesis writing in the field of esotericism, are organised in conjunction with the annual ESSWE board meeting. We’ve had one on alchemy in 2010, and one on magic in 2012. This year’s workshop has just been announced: the topic is “Gnosis and Alterations of Consciousness”, the date is May 10 (a Saturday), and the place, as previous years, is Amsterdam. It is also completely free (although you should contact the HHP secretary to book a place – see the official call for details). A great excuse for spending a May weekend in Amsterdam!

 

(more…)

Forbidden Histories – a blog worth following

Last autumn, Andreas Sommer defended his PhD at UCL, moved on to Cambridge  and started a blog. His PhD thesis was on the relationship between psychical research and the origins of modern psychology, a topic on which Sommer has published some very interesting articles over the last few years (recommended). The blog Forbidden Histories continues and expands these interests: if you haven’t seen it yet, it is a highly recommended history of science blog focusing on, well: “Everything you always wanted to know about science and ‘the miraculous’ (but were afraid to ask)”.

Here is how it’s introduced:

(more…)

Looking through the Occult – talks available as podcasts

Voices through the ether

Voices through the ether

Last November I took part in an interesting interdisciplinary conference at the Humboldt in Berlin, on “Looking through the Occult: Instrumentation, Esotericism, and Epistemology“. It moved in the landscape of media studies, history of science and technology, religious studies, art history, and esotericism, and was organized by a scholarly network interested in what they call “nonhegemonic knowledge”:

(more…)

Looking through the Occult: Conference on Instrumentation, Esotericism and Epistemology in the 19th Century (Humboldt U, Berlin)

Humboldt

Humboldt University at Unter den Linden 6, Berlin.

I’m excited to participate in a wonderful conference at Berlin’s Humboldt University on November 14-15: “Looking through the Occult: Instrumentation, Esotericism and Epistemology in the 19th Century”. The conference is free and open to the public, so if you are in Berlin and have an above average interest in topics such as spiritualism and mediums, ether physics, spirit photography, early radio technology and x-rays, this should be a good treat. Check out the nice website for more information on the programme, how to get there, and what to read up on in advance.

(more…)

The esoteric in modern art

Bauduin occultation of surrealismOver the last few years, there appears to have been an increased interest, at least from academics and curators, in the relationship between esotericism and art. A couple of my colleagues have spent considerable research time investigating this relation, and I want to use this post to recommend their work. This seems particularly relevant given certain recent publications, which I will get to in a second.

(more…)

The Problem of Disenchantment – invitation to a PhD defence

Problem of DIsenchantment cover

Last autumn I completed my PhD dissertation, and now it’s time to defend it. The defence is public, and will take place on February 5, 2013, at 12:00 in the Agnietenkapel of the University of Amsterdam. The event is open to anyone (with a max. capacity of 90 people), and I will give a short public lecture on the topic of my research prior to defending it in front of the committee.

While I have given hints about my research in a number of posts here at Heterodoxology, I am now happy to present an official abstract of the final product – the dissertation itself:

(more…)

Digitized sources for the history of German parapsychology

Sphinx journal

German occult, spiritualist and parapsychological journals now digitized and available online.

The history of parapsychology has been one of my research interests in recent years. It is not so long ago that I  reviewed Heather Wolffram’s recent book on German parapsychologyStepchildren of Science,  and noted that it breaks new ground in providing access to little-explored German sources – in English. Much of the source material for German parapsychology is indeed very hard to access outside of Germany. In my own research, I have been able to draw on a good collection of psychical research literature at the Amsterdam University Library, much of which was collected by a students society for psychical research active in Amsterdam in the early 20th century. Even this collection is weak on German sources, however. The same is true for the digital collections available through Archive.org – a great resource for anglophone sources, but less so for other languages. In my case, I had to spend a couple of days at the IGPP’s collections in Freiburg to finish the parts of my research that dealt with German parapsychology.

(more…)

Contemporary Esotericism conference drawing close – full programme ready

The 1st International Conference on Contemporary Esotericism is drawing close. Kennet and I have been working hard the past two weeks on putting together a program schedule, editing the book of abstracts and collating other  useful information. Those who are already registered for the conference will already have received the schedule by email. Now it is also available online at the conference website. Better yet, the complete book of abstracts can be found as a pdf here. I add a copy of the schedule below as well. If you want to find more about a particular paper, you can go to the book of abstract. And of course: If this looks tempting, you are still welcome to join the conference! Registration is open continuously online.

(more…)

Parapsychology in Germany – review of Heather Wolffram’s Stepchildren of Science (2009)

In 2009 a fat and promising book landed on my desk, fresh from the publisher. I had looked forward to it for a while, as the topic was highly relevant for my dissertation, and this was the first full-length academic study ever to look at it. It was furthermore written by an author whose articles on the same topic I had been following for a while, with great interest. The book was Heather Wolffram’s Stepchildren of Science: Psychical Research and Parapsychology in Germany, c. 1870-1939. I was going to write a book review for Aries, which I did. It only appeared this spring, however. Since it is already three years ago that the book was published, I think it is about time to share the review with a broader community. So please find the pre-publication version of the review below.

(more…)

Blind Spots of Disenchantment (2/3)

Following up the previous post about Weber’s notion of disenchantment, and its normative implications, this second part of the installment provides some snapshots of episodes in the early 20th century – that is, of Weber’s contemporaries – which all seem to be in conflict with the disenchanted perspective of science. We start by considering some episodes in physics, then move on to the life sciences, before ending with some remarks on the controversial borderland which is psychical research.

(more…)