CFP for Special Panel: Magic in the Modern World (Esotericism & Occutism Area of Southwest Popular/American Culture Association) Feb. 19-22, 2020

George Sieg's picture
October 31, 2019
New Mexico, United States
Subject Fields: 
Humanities, World History / Studies, Popular Culture Studies, Intellectual History, Cultural History / Studies

Globally and throughout history, “magic” has been variously conceived as an academic category, a cultural construct, a theological formulation, an art, and a craft; all of these conceptions, and many others, have been reflected, perpetuated, and informed by the representation of magic in and through popular culture.  Similarly, magical practices have been influenced by popular aesthetic representations and attitudes, and magical practitioners themselves have been creators of, or contributors to, such representations.  This process has occurred cross-culturally throughout historical time, and contemporary popular culture has thoroughly embraced diverse expressions of magical belief and practice; however, scholars focusing on the modern world have tended to focus on the contributions of conceptions of magic to witchcraft beliefs in the Early Modern period, on “occultism” during the frequently referenced ‘Modern Occult Revival,” or on the turn-of-the-nineteenth/twentieth century “occult milieu.”  While the general, and now very much contested, thesis of the “disenchantment of the modern world” (along with its corollary, that of the “re-enchantment” of the modern world, and of identified challenges to the presumed victory of Enlightenment rationalism) often deploys a concept of magic as a foil to reason, rather less attention has been paid to the role of magic itself in popular culture throughout modernity, from the initial inception of the Early Modern into contemporary traditions that could be specifically identified as “modernist” in their embrace of ideals of progress and conviction of its continued possibility.  The role of magic, implicit or explicit, in various critiques of modernism (including, for example, that of the Traditionalists) is of similar interest but has seen less emphasis.

Consequently, the Area for Esotericism & Occultism at the Southwest Popular/American Culture Association annual conference is seeking three to four papers for a panel specifically addressing Magic in the Modern World.  Possible approaches are not limited to the above introductory suggestions, and any papers relating to the topic will be considered for the panel, although preference will be given to those that reflect a distinction between the modern and the contemporary.  There are also likely to be many other panels, and so any paper submitted for this panel but not chosen for it will instead be placed in another panel to which it is more suited.  Therefore, even if you are not interested in this particular topic, please feel free to propose any paper relevant to Esotericism & Occultism in popular culture.

In order to receive the full CFP or further instructions for proposal to this panel, please contact

Thank you for your interest!

Contact Info: 

Dr. George J. Sieg

Area Chair: Esotericism & Occultism (Southwest Popular/American Culture Association)

Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (Business & Liberal Arts)


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