ESOTERICISM, OCCULTISM, AND MAGIC
Southwest Popular / American Culture Association (SWPACA)
43rdt Annual Conference, February 23-26, 2022
Hyatt Regency Hotel & Conference Center
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Submissions open on August 1, 2021
Proposal submission deadline: October 31, 2021
Proposals for papers and panels are now being accepted for the 43rd 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 http://southwestpca.org/conference/call-for-papers/
Esotericism, Occultism, and Magic invites proposals relating to magical worldviews, practices, and representations, as well as consciousness transformation, hidden meanings, the power of transmutation, and related phenomena. Characteristic beliefs and practices include: arcane symbolism, imagery, and aesthetics; unseen forces and spiritual intermediaries; synchronous patterns, non-ordinary causation, and anomalous processes. Examples of concepts and systems include Theosophy, Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, Hermeticism, Gnosticism, Sufism, Satanism, Tantra, witchcraft, sorcery, demonology, astrology, alchemy, shamanism, yoga, parapsychology, and psychic and paranormal phenomena, along with beliefs and practices relating to altered states of consciousness, overlapping with the study of mysticism as well as New Age spirituality, channeling, positive thinking, manifest intention, guardian angels, and Ascended Masters. 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. Special themes discussed for 2022 may include the following, but all proposals suitable to the Area will be considered:
African-American, Afro-Caribbean, and African Traditional systems, the Black Esoteric Milieu, and Moorish Science; Islamic esotericism and magic in reception and representation; cross-cultural intersections and syncretisms; reconstructed/speculated historical practices in popular culture and fiction; nonlinearity and the weird; space/time and prophecy; scientistic representations in esotericism, occultism, and magic; the crossroads and the in-between; EOM and the mainstream; EOM and sectarianism, radicalism, deviance, reactionary movements, extremisms, “extremes” and “the extreme”; crime, violence, and transgression; initiation and ordeals; necromancy and representations of death; pain, suffering, asceticism and deprivation, indulgence and overload in practice and representation; quarantine, containment, and confinement; trauma, thought-reform, mind-control, and “brainwashing”, actual or projected/constructed; EOM and the abject; apotropeism and fear; archives, archaicism, and nostalgia; canonicity in representations and transmissions; music; fantasy and escapism in worldview, practice, and representation; scrying, divination, surveillance, the “seer” and conceptions/representations of the “watchers”; madness, insanity, mental illness, and behavioral disorder; conception and creation of archetypes and egregores; ontological pressure, self-similarity, and fourth-wall-breaking as technique and representation in esotericism, occultism, and magic.
Sample Ideas for topics categorized by media:
Literature: Fiction by practitioners, such as Philip K. Dick, William S. Burroughs, C. S. Friedman. Books by practitioners (for example, Evola, Gurdjieff, Crowley, Anton LaVey, Gerald Gardner, Peter Carroll, Edgar Cayce). Influences and themes in magical realism, speculative fiction, gothic fiction, weird fiction, historical fiction. Fiction influential on practitioners, such as Zanoni, Goethe’s Faust, The Illuminatus! Trilogy. Historical representations of magicians, witches, and wizards, including stylized and mythic figures (Merlin, Morgan La Fey, Circe, Medea, Kostchie the Deathless, etc.), in genre fiction (contemporary Arthurian adaptations) or modernizations (Neil Gaiman). New Age and/or popular manifestation guides, such as The Secret. Conspiracist and/or extra-terrestrial cosmologies related to esoteric concepts (David Icke, the Seth transmissions to Jane Roberts, the Michael channelings, etc.).
Visual Art: Examples, Wassily Kandinsky, Austin Spare, Rosaleen Norton, Michael Bertiaux.
Film: Content as in The Color Out of Space, The VVitch, Hereditary, Midsommar, The Skeleton Key, The Serpent and the Rainbow, The Ninth Gate, The Conjuring series, The Wicker Man; Gnostic allegories such as The Matrix, Dark City, The Truman Show; explorations of consciousness such as eXistenZ, Altered States, 2001 Space Odyssey; representations of occult aesthetic, such as Eyes Wide Shut, or traumatic initiation, such as the Saw series; stylized depictions of magicians, wizards, and witches (Dr. Strange, Shazam, Maleficent, Oz, Warlock, Thulsa Doom of Conan, Jafar of Aladdin) ; esoteric/occult films such those by Kenneth Anger and Alejandro Jodorowsky; pseudo- and crypto-history in fiction (Tomb Raider, National Treasure); New Age documentaries, such as The Secret; conspiracist receptions of esoteric and occult history, such as Zeitgeist.
Television: Theme and/or content examples The Witcher, The Magicians, Stranger Things, Shadowhunters, Game of Thrones, The Man in the High Castle, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Twin Peaks, Westworld, Penny Dreadful, DaVinci’s Demons, American Horror Story, American Gods, Lucifer, True Detective (season one), DaVinci’s Demons. Strange Angel, fictionalized biography of occultist/magician Jack Parsons. Significant protagonists and anti-heroes; fourth-wall-breaking or uncanny figures, presented with esoteric, occult, or quasi-ritualistic aesthetics (Dr. Hannibal Lecter, Frank Underwood of House of Cards).
Comics / Graphic Novels: Contain esoteric, occult, and magical motifs and tropes. Some are actively esoteric; Grant Morrison claims The Invisibles and Promethea as personal magical workings; the graphic novels of Neil Gaiman embrace esoteric, occult, magical themes and characters.
Music: Specific artists (e.g.,Genesis P-Orridge, David Bowie, Coil, Marilyn Manson, Ghost, Watain, Dissection, Behemoth, Wardruna, Tori Amos, Loreena McKennitt, Gustav Holst), genres (black metal, viking/Nordic ambient, apocalyptic folk, witch house).
Video Games: Theme and content, e.g., The Witcher, Silent Hill, Darkest Dungeon, Cultist Simulator, SOMA, Deus Ex, Dark Souls, Xenogears, Devil May Cry, Shadow Hearts, Arx Fatalis; pseudo-history Assassin’s Creed, Tomb Raider; historical worldviews, Civilization VI (secret societies), Crusader Kings (cults, witchcraft, demonolatry).
Tabletop Roleplaying Games: White Wolf’s Mage (World of Darkness generally), Atlas Games Unknown Armies, Monte Cook’s Invisible Sun. RPGs have influenced the conception of magic in popular culture across media, and present extensive representation of magical figures.
Other possible topics:
Influence of esoteric/occult/magical/New Age beliefs, practices, 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/occultism/magic: fads, trends, moral panics, witch-hunts, witch-crazes, conspiracy theories (e.g., occult-conspiracism in QAnon; Illuminati paranoia, bloodline of the Holy Grail beliefs, Satanic Ritual Abuse scandals).
Reactions and polemics against esoteric/occult/magical beliefs and practices.
All proposals must be submitted through the conference’s database at http://register.southwestpca.org/southwestpca
For details on using the submission database and on the application process in general, please see the Proposal Submission FAQs and Tips page at http://southwestpca.org/conference/faqs-and-tips/
Individual proposals for 15-minute papers must include an abstract of approximately 200-500 words. For information on how to submit a proposal for a roundtable or a multi-paper panel, please view the above FAQs and Tips page.
SWPACA will offer registration reimbursement awards for the best graduate student papers in a variety of categories. Submissions of accepted, full papers are due January 1, 2021. SWPACA will also offer registration reimbursement awards for select undergraduate and graduate students in place of our traditional travel awards. For more information, visit http://southwestpca.org/conference/graduate-student-awards/. Registration for the conference will be open and available in late fall. Watch your email for details!
In addition, please check out the organization’s peer-reviewed, scholarly journal, Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, at http://journaldialogue.org/
If you have any questions about the Esotericism, Occultism, and Magic area, please contact its Area Chair, Dr. George J. Sieg (email@example.com) / 505 440 2105
We look forward to receiving your submissions!
Dr. George J. Sieg
Area Chair: Esotericism, Occultism, and Magic (Southwest Popular/American Culture Association)
Liberal Arts: Philosophy and English (Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute)