Eighth Biannual Conference of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE)(Cork 2022)

I am very pleased to receive word of my acceptance on the programme of the Eighth Conference of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (Cork 2022). I will discussing the l’Ordre des Chevaliers Maçons Élus Coëns de l’Univers. ESSWE8 is the 8th Biannual Conference of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE). The ESSWE is an academic society established in 2005 to advance the study of the various manifestations of Western esotericism from late antiquity to the present, and is an affiliated society of the International Association for the History of Religions (IAHR) and a related scholarly organization of the American Academy of Religion (AAR). Among its activities is the organization of an international conference every two years. 

Western Esotericism and Creativity: Art, Performance and Innovation. University College Cork, 5-7 July 2021

This conference brings together scholars who seek to examine the intersections of Western Esotericism and artforms, creative performance and production. The relationship between diverse genres of the arts and Western Esotericism are close and multivalent; many artists, historical and contemporary, are practising occultists or influenced by esoteric philosophies or practices. The theme encourages explorations of manifestations of spiritual creativity and the relationship between esoteric symbols, principles and religious frameworks, and the production of artwork. A multitude of examples of esoteric-inspired art can be identified, from literature and music to painting and photography.

The broad conference theme encourages cross-disciplinary engagement, from scholars of religion, philosophers, historians, art historians, musicologists, literary scholars, psychologists and anthropologists as well as allowing the integration of perspectives and dialogue in relation to examinations of different dimensions of Western esotericism, whether in historical contexts or contemporary social and popular manifestations, in its experiential aspects or its philosophical strands.

The year 2021 is a commemorative year in Ireland as in 1921 the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed, bringing an end to the War of Independence. Artists of the ‘Anglo-Irish Literary Revival’ or ‘Celtic Twilight’ artistic movement, such as William Butler Yeats, Ella Young, and George Russell, were involved in political movements and nationalist endeavours as well as folklore collection, and were practicing occultists, and the conference aims to explore such intersections of esotericism, art, politics and nationalism in Ireland and far beyond.

ESSWE8 is a Special Conference of the International Association for the History of Religions (IAHR).

Keynote lectures:

Dr Marco Pasi, Associate Professor, University of Amsterdam, Department of Humanities, “The Occulture of Contemporary Art”

Dr Claire Nally, Associate Professor, Northumbria University, Department of Humanities, “Ireland’s Funerary Culture and Ancestral Memory: W. B. Yeats’s Early Poetry and Prose”

Dr Christopher Webster, Senior Lecturer, Aberystwyth University, “Stone, Symbol and Face: Photography and Ethnos in the Third Reich”

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