As a member of what’s been called the “brat pack” of esotericism scholars I am proud to note that a considerable number of us are appearing on the scene this year with monographs based on PhD dissertations. The brat pack presumably consists of a group of (then) students and emerging scholars who were around at the time of ESSWE 1 in 2007, and who have frequently been seen together at conferences since. While some of us have teamed up for joint gigs in the past (think The Devil’s Party or Contemporary Esotericism, and the conferences that went with both of these), it looks like 2014 is the big year for solo work. I know of at least four titles either published or forthcoming in 2014 by (for the most part) recent PhDs working in the field of Western esotericism. There may be other publication plans I am not aware of (please leave a note!). Here’s a chronological list of the knowns.
With only a few hours left of 2013, I feel relatively safe that no new earth-shattering breakthroughs in the field of esotericism will be published this year. With that certainty in mind, I want to share with you a list of my favourite esotericism related publications that have appeared this year. The list is obviously biased in many ways, and I am even going to be obnoxious enough to put some personal darlings on the list. Judge this as you may; in any case I think you will agree that 2013 has been a good year for the academic study of esotericism. So here goes, my personal highlights of 2013 – ordered by subjective level of excitement:
Watch out for the next generation of esotericism scholars! We’re already here; and, according to Wouter J. Hanegraaff, the volume on Contemporary Esotericism that appeared on Equinox earlier this year, edited by Kennet Granholm and myself, is the shape of things to come. We hope he’s right, of course.
The 20 chapters of that volume covered much ground, but, as Wouter comments:
More esotericism at the Religious Studies Project: reflections on discursive (and other) methodologies
Just a couple of days after the Religious Studies Project posted a podcast interview with Wouter Hanegraaff on the academic study of esotericism, there is a follow-up in the form of a short-length essay, debating the possibilities and challenges of esotericism research. Its author, Damon Lycourinos, a current PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh, brings up a number of concerns – related to questions of European cultural identities (e.g. “reason” vs. “faith”), “the West”, definitional problems related to emic self-designations and typological constructs, etc.
The first half of 2012 has been a great year for research on modern Western ritual magic. I have already mentioned the publication of my own book, Arguing with Angels, which deals with that obscure system of angel magic known as “Enochian”. I have also mentioned the forthcoming thesis workshop on magic, co-hosted by the ESSWE and the Chair for History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents here in Amsterdam. There are however a couple of other publications that have appeared so far this year as well, which I have been meaning to mention for a while. Let’s get to it.
The 1st International Conference on Contemporary Esotericism will be held in Stockholm this August. The deadline for submitting papers is drawing closer (March 30), and there have been a couple of updates – including a new keynote speaker. Check out the call for papers below.
A number of newsworthy things have popped up in the world of esotericism scholarship lately, but as I have been tied up with reaching deadlines, they have not found their way to Heterodoxology yet. The solution? A brief list of updates, below. Some of it you may already have read about over at Invocatio, the Phoenix Rising website, or some other etheric place, but no harm is done in hearing something twice.
One of the reasons for not writing here very often this spring is that I am co-editing a major volume in my “spare time”. Last week I visited my good friend, colleague and co-editor Kennet Granholm at Stockholm University, to discuss some final issues. This weekend, we ship the manuscript off to Equinox Publishing – a full 689 pages – ending a period with much editorial work. To celebrate this, I’ll kick off some pre-production advertising of the volume, which bears the title Contemporary Esotericism.
Following up the last post, here comes a report on the esotericism panels at the IAHR in Toronto, organized by Marco Pasi. As you can read about below, they go straight into a central debate in the field of esotericism studies at the moment.
As mentioned a couple of times before, I am going to Toronto next weekend to join the IAHR World Congress. It only happens every five years, and is a big happening in the fields of religious studies/Religionswissenschaft. This year there will also be a considerable presence of esotericism research. Marco Pasi, Cathy Gutierrez and Allison Coudert are hosting a large panel on “Western esotericism and its boundaries”, which, by systematically tackling the issue of the cultural and geographical boundaries of this concept will no doubt be an important occasion for this field of research. In addition there is the “Seduced by Science” panel, which I co-host with Tessel M. Bauduin. For anybody who’s interested, I attach more details about these two panels below.