After the untimely death of Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke back in 2012 (see obituary in The Times, and by Christopher McIntosh in Aries [pay-wall]) , there has been much speculation about what would happen with the Exeter Centre for the Study of Esotericism (EXESESO) that he ran at the University of Exeter. Since 2005, EXESESO has offered one of the three official university programs for the academic study of esotericism in Europe (the others being in Amsterdam and Paris), and produced a steady stream of MAs through its distance learning program. After an internal evaluation process at Exeter University, in dialogue with the Theosophically oriented Blavatsky Trust who funded the centre, a final decision has now been made to shut EXESESO down. Mark Sedgwick reports on the decision in the Spring 2014 ESSWE newsletter, which was released today:
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:
If you’re new to the field of Western esotericism, planning to set up an introductory course somewhere, or wondering what to read as a crash-course to the field, here is something you have to read first. The upcoming issue of the journal Religion (“iFirst” version available online now for subscribers) publishes a lengthy review article by Wouter J. Hanegraaff, a leading expert in the field, going through as many as seven introductory level textbooks that have been published over the last eight years (since 2004). More than just a review of introductions, the article engages critically with the theoretical and methodological challenges of the field, and takes a clear stand on where one should go from here. The result is an article that analyses the present situation of esotericism research, provides an overview of strengths and weaknesses in the basic literature that newcomers are likely to encounter, and offers a pronounced and programmatic statement for future researchers and teachers.
It’s been a long time away from blogging, but for good reason I assure you. While in the middle of moving house I have been finishing my dissertation, a good 600+ pages that will be sent off to committee members on Friday. Now more work awaits in following up on a recent event in Stockholm: as announced many times on this blog, the 1st International Conference on Contemporary Esotericism was held at Stockholm University on August 27-29.
The tragic and grave circumstances surrounding the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica hit the news at the end of the week. The Dutch newspaper Trouw had a two-page report Thursday, while the news site Nu.nl published a shorter article on the situation. Follow the Money, a Dutch platform for financial-economic journalism currently has the most thorough information, over three articles (here, here and here – the latter mentions our petition). The Epoch Times has a piece on the Rochefoucauld Grail, the extremely valuable medieval manuscript on king Arthur which sparked the controversy between Mr. Ritman and Friesland Bank. Meanwhile, several blogs have picked up on the news as well, and kindly helped spread the petition. The Wild Hunt has a thorough account, as does Grenswetenschap (Dutch), while Cosmogono’s Weblog has kindly translated the petition text into Spanish.
Through blogs, facebook, twitter, emails, and forums, the petition has thus been distributed widely over the last few days, passing 2.500 signatories Saturday afternoon.
Summer time has been upon me and Heterodoxology has been dead silent for a while. Unfortunately, when I look at the pile of things to do these coming months I fear it may stay that way. This is nevertheless an honest attempt at getting things rolling again. I’ll just kick off with some whimsically chosen (perhaps relevant) news: