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Call for Papers - Visions of Enchantment: Occultism, Spirituality & Visual Culture

  • 2014-03-14
  • 2014-03-18
  • University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
International Conference
University of Cambridge
17-18 March 2014

This two-day event is a collaboration between the Department of History of Art, University of Cambridge and the Arts University Bournemouth, and is organised in association with the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE). The conference seeks to investigate the formative role that occultism and magic have played in Western and non-Western visual and material culture. It aims to present original research in this field as well as to establish a productive dialogue between academics with a particular research interest in occultism and visual culture.

Keynote Speakers

Professor Antoine Faivre (Sorbonne)
Professor M. E. Warlick (University of Denver)
​Professor Emilie Savage-Smith (University of Oxford)
​Dr Marco Pasi (University of Amsterdam)
​Dr Sarah Victoria Turner (University of York)

We invite proposals from a variety of disciplines and perspectives, provided that they present innovative insights into visual, symbolic or material aspects of the esoteric tradition.

Acceptable topics may include, but are by no means limited to, the following areas:
  • Alchemy and Hermetic symbolism;
  • Astrology and astrological illustrations;
  • The visual and material culture of witchcraft, black magic and sorcery;
  • Talismans, totems, fetishes and other apotropaic objects;
  • Occult and spiritual aspects of Jewish, Christian, Islamic and Hindu art and architecture, including sacred iconography, sacred architecture, manuscript illumination and the material culture of worship, ritual performance and festivity;
  • Theosophy and modern visual culture;
  • The visual and material culture of other occult movements and societies, including Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, Mesmerism, Spiritism, the Salon de la Rose+Croix, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and New Age Spirituality;
  • Surrealism and the politics of the occult;
  • The influence of occultism and the spiritual on other avant-garde movements, including Symbolism, Expressionism, Futurism, Cubism, Constructivism, Dada and Abstract Expressionism;
  • Occult art, counter-culture and radical/subversive politics;
  • Women artists and the occult;
  • Gendered, sexual and ‘queer’ ramifcations of esoteric art;
  • Photography, spiritism, séances and automatic drawings/paintings;
  • The supernatural in performance, cinema, experimental flm and video-installations;
  • Occultism and magic in contemporary visual culture.
Papers should be 20 minutes in length and will be followed by a 10-minute Q&A session. Abstracts of no more than 500 words and a short bio-sketch of no more than 150 words should be sent as a single Word.doc to  by 31 October 2013. We plan to publish the proceedings of this conference. Please indicate therefore whether you would be interested in further developing your paper for a publication of collected essays after the event.

Conference fee

Regular: £ 45
Students: £ 25
Speakers: £ 15

Click HERE to download the Call for Papers.

The Conference Committee
Judith Noble (Arts University Bournemouth)
Rachel Parikh (Magdelene College, University of Cambridge)
Daniel Zamani (Trinity College, University of Cambridge)


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