Correspondences third issue and statement on publishing strategy

Game of Thrones addict? No new series yet, but you can read about its representation of paganism in the latest Correspondences.

Game of Thrones addict? No new series yet, but you can read about its representation of paganism in the latest Correspondences.

Those who follow esotericism scholarship online will already know that Correspondences Vol. 2.2 has now been published, and is available for download at the journal’s website. It’s a healthy third issue from the young journal, with three research articles on topics ranging from representations of European paganism in the popular TV shows Game of Thrones and Vikings (Robert A. Saunders), to the question of how modern “modern ritual magic” really is (Christopher Plaisance), to a look at esoteric ideas forged in the context of Fascist Italy (Roberto Bacci). This selection makes it the most distinctly “modern and contemporary” issue to date – although there is certainly stuff in there for those interested in the broad historical lines as well, especially in Plaisance’s article on the continuities in European magical ritual practice.

Besides, there are five substantial book reviews this time, on some important recent volumes that span topics from Gnosticism and Theurgy to Aleister Crowley, Anthroposophy, and modern Satanism.  For a couple of these books, this may even be their first published review.

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Meet the editors of Correspondences

Editors in chief

Editors in chief

Chances are you have seen the new open access journal Correspondences, which publishes peer-reviewed research on  esotericism (if you haven’t, check out the first issue here). In case you were wondering who’s behind this initiative and what compelled them to start this journal, Ethan Doyle White of Albion Calling has published an interview with the two editors, Jimmy Elwing and Aren Roukema. The accompanying rock star image leaves little doubt that the editors and the journal are part of the emerging “next generation”, defining “Esotericism 3.0”. Read about how they got involved with the academic study of esotericism, what kind of research they’re into, and their views on open access publishing and the way forward.

The interviewer also had an article published in the first issue of Correspondences, focusing on witchcraft and Luciferianism. Oh, and while the deadline for the second issue has just passed, I’m sure Aren and Jimmy  would appreciate new submissions!

The biggest esotericism conference yet – ESSWE4 and the schizophrenic life of academics

A few days ago I returned from Gothenburg, Sweden, after the fourth international conference of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (or #ESSWE4 for those following the tagboard). It was slightly larger than the three previous conferences (in Tübingen, Strasbourg, and Szeged); more than 90 papers were presented, there were discussion panels, keynotes, and night-time events. The conference was spread out over four days, and it needed every minute of the daily 9-hour schedule.

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Open-access publishing and Western esotericism: Greeting Correspondences Vol. 1.1

Correspondences journal header

The first issue of a new peer-reviewed journal for the study of Western esotericism has just been released. There aren’t too many of those around to begin with, so Correspondences is (as announced previously) a welcome newcomer to a small field. The first issue already shows much promise with four articles covering a broad span, even breaking some new ground (read them here). But what makes this journal a particularly important newcomer is that it is entirely open-access. Everything is published openly online (after editorial selection, peer review, copy-editing and typesetting, of course), and shared through social media under a Creative Commons license. Without compromising anything on the side of peer-review (a broad editorial board has helped the editors-in-chief find competent reviewers), and with typesetting that completely matches what the paywall-protected publishers typically can muster (let’s face it: it was never anything too fancy to begin with), the result is fully fledged, quality-approved academic articles that are completely free, open to everyone, and published without the often considerable lag of subscription journals.

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“Correspondences” – Launching a new journal for esotericism research

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.

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