The next meeting of the American Academy of Religion will include, as has been the case for a number of years now, several sessions organized by the group for Western esotericism (co-chaired by Cathy Gutierrez and Marco Pasi). This group seeks to reflect and further stimulate the current process — reflected in the recent creation of new teaching programs, international associations, journals, book series, and reference works — of professionalization and scholarly recognition of Western esotericism as a new area of research in the study of religion. For more information on the field, see the websites of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE, http://www.esswe.org), the Association for the Study of Esotericism (ASE, http://www.aseweb.org), and the Center for the History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents at the University of Amsterdam (http://amsterdamhermetica.nl).
For the necxt meeting of the AAR in San Diego 2014, the Western esotericism group invites paper proposals on the following topics:
• Lived esotericism: In the last fifteen years the concept of "lived religion" has gained attention from scholars and has been at the basis of a growing number of researches and publications. The Group would like to explore the possibility to apply this concept to the study of Western esotericism. Western esotericism has often been studied by focusing on texts and doctrines, more rarely on the actual experiences of esotericists trying to translate those texts and doctrines into lived, daily practice. The predominant approach based on intellectual history has perhaps led to an idealized, partial image of the social and cultural dimensions of Western esotericism. Please note that proposals should not focus necessarily on contemporary Western esotericism. Proposals on earlier periods will also be welcome.
• Esotericism and imaginative narratives: Possible topics include but are not limited to mystical or initiatory rites presented as fiction, novels that deal extensively with the transmission of esoteric knowledge, and esotericism in popular culture and film. As always, the Group seeks papers from as wide a range of historical periods as possible.
• Transformative and performative aspects of gender in esoteric practices (for a possible joint session with the Queer Studies in Religion Group)
• Western esotericism and African American culture: There is in recent years a growing interest in the study of Western esotericism in the context of African American culture. The Group welcomes proposals on this topic (for a possible joint session with the Afro-American Religious History Group).
• Western esotericism and ritual studies: We are interested in receiving proposals that focus on the way in which esoteric rituals can be related to nature, the environment, or ecological concerns (for a possible joint session with the Ritual Studies Group)
Please look for further information on how to submit directly in the AAR website (https://www.aarweb.org/annual-meeting/call-for-papers).The deadline for the submission of proposals is Monday, 3 March 2014.