CFP: Esotericism & Occultism @ Southwest PCA EXTENSION!

George Sieg's picture
Call for Papers
November 15, 2018
New Mexico, United States
Subject Fields: 
American History / Studies, Humanities, Intellectual History, Popular Culture Studies, Religious Studies and Theology

Call for Papers – DEADLINE EXTENDED!

Esotericism & Occultism

Southwest Popular / American Culture Association (SWPACA)

40th Annual Conference, February 20-23, 2019

Hyatt Regency Hotel & Conference Center

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Proposal submission deadline: November 1, 2018  November 15, 2018

Proposals for papers and panels are now being accepted for the 40th annual SWPACA conference.  One of the nation’s largest interdisciplinary academic conferences, SWPACA offers nearly 70 subject areas, each typically featuring multiple panels.  For a full list of subject areas, area descriptions, and Area Chairs, please visit 

For our 40th Annual Conference celebration, we are exited to announce that special guest Pam Houston will be joining us as a keynote speaker. She is the author of short story collection Cowboys are My Weakness and Waltzing the Cat, novels Sight Hound and Contents May Have Shifted, and the essay collection, A Little More About Me. Houston is a professor at the University of California Davis and teaches in the Low Residency MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts.  She also cofounded and directs the literary nonprofit Writing By Writers.

SWPACA will also offer 3 preconference workshops scheduled for Wednesday, February 20th, 9am-12pm. Join us this year for workshops in academic publishing, self-publishing, and using popular culture in the classroom!

Esotericism and Occultism invites proposals relating to magical worldviews and practices, consciousness transformation, and hidden meanings. Beliefs and practices involving unseen forces, spiritual intermediaries, synchronous patterns, and arcane symbolism are characteristic of this field. Examples of concepts and systems are Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, Hermeticism, Gnosticism, Sufism, Satanism, Tantra, practical and traditional witchcraft, demonology, astrology, alchemy, shamanism, magical power and technique, mysticism, psychic ability, and paranormal phenomena. Esoteric, occult, and magical ideas, beliefs, and practices appear in every culture and civilization; contemporary media and popular culture have embraced them enthusiastically, yet at times have reacted against them.  The impact of esotericism, occultism, and magic on genre formation/content and popular cultural perceptions has been profound.

Individual papers, organized panels, and roundtable discussions welcomed.  Please contact the area chair with questions/suggestions.

Ideas for topics:

Literature:  Books by practitioners (for example, Gurdjieff, Evola, Crowley, Gerald Gardner, Anton LaVey, Peter Carroll).  Esoteric/occult/magical influences and themes in magical realism, speculative fiction, gothic fiction, weird fiction, and historical fiction.  Fiction influential on practitioners, such as Zanoni, Goethe’s Faust, The Illuminatus! Trilogy.  Fiction by practitioners, such as Philip K. Dick and William S. Burroughs.

Visual Art:  Examples, Wassily Kandinsky, Austin Spare, Rosaleen Norton, Michael Bertiaux.

Film:  Content as in The Serpent and the Rainbow, The Ninth Gate, The Witch, Hereditary, The Conjuring series; allegories such as The Matrix, Dark City, The Truman Show; and, esoteric/occult films such those by Kenneth Anger and Alejandro Jodorowsky.

Television:  Theme and content examples Twin Peaks, DaVinci’s Demons, American Horror Story, Lucifer, Westworld.   Strange Angel fictionalizes the biography of occultist/magician Jack Parsons.

Comics / Graphic Novels:  Many contain esoteric, occult, and magical motifs and tropes.  Some are themselves esoteric; Grant Morrison claims his The Invisibles and Promethea as personal magical workings.

Music:  Specific artists (e.g., David Bowie, Marilyn Manson); genres (black metal, apocalyptic folk, witch house).

Video Games:  Themes/content examples, The Witcher, Xenogears, Devil May Cry, Silent Hill, Deus Ex; pseudo-history example, Assassin’s Creed.

Tabletop Roleplaying Games:  Frequently influenced by esotericism, occultism, and magic, especially White Wolf’s Mage and the Swedish RPG Kult)

Other possible topics:

Influence of esoteric/occult/magical beliefs, practices, and symbols on popular culture and aesthetics (e.g., memes, clothing, tattoos, jewelry).

Influence of popular culture on esoteric/occult/magical beliefs, practices, and practitioners (e.g., Lovecraft mythos as actual magical practice, fictional gods of chaos in Chaos Magic, and real vampire communities using concepts from Vampire: The Masquerade).

Popular beliefs about esotericism and occultism, such as fads, trends, moral panics, witch-hunts, witch-crazes, and conspiracy theories (e.g., Illuminati paranoia, bloodline of the Holy Grail beliefs, and Satanic Ritual Abuse scandals).

Reactions against esoteric/occult/magical beliefs and practices.

NOTE: This area is for submissions about esoteric/occult/magical worldviews, beliefs, practices, and practitioners. There is a separate area for alternative spirituality and the New Age, which may include popular fictionalized concepts of the supernatural.


All proposals must be submitted through the conference’s database at 


For details on using the submission database and on the application process in general, please see the Proposal Submission FAQs and Tips page at 


Individual proposals for 15 minute papers must include an abstract of approximately 200-500 words.  Including a brief bio in the body of the proposal form is encouraged, but not required.  


For information on how to submit a proposal for a roundtable or a multi-paper panel, please view the above FAQs and Tips page.  


The deadline for submissions has been EXTENDED to November 15, 2018!   

SWPACA offers monetary awards for the best graduate student papers in a variety of categories. Submissions of accepted, full papers are due December 1.  For more information, visit


Registration and travel information for the conference is available at


In addition, please check out the organization’s peer-reviewed, scholarly journal, Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, at

If you have any questions about the Esotericism & Occultism area, please contact its Area Chair, Dr. George J. Sieg, Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute, at  


We look forward to receiving your submissions.  

Contact Info: 

Dr. George J. Sieg

Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute

Contact Email: