Possible panel on esotericism and cognition at AAR 2015

The European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE) is hoping to arrange a panel on cognitive approaches to esotericism at the upcoming American Academy of Religion (in Atlanta, November 2015). The deadline for this is extremely tight (this coming Friday, February 13). Below is the email sent out yesterday by Wouter Hanegraaff to ESSWE members, containing information on how to submit a short abstract if you are interested in participating.


At the upcoming conference of the American Academy of Religion (Atlanta, Georgia, November 21-24), affiliated organizations have the option of organizing a session of their own, apart from the regular sessions. Since the ESSWE is one of those affiliated organizations, we would like to use the opportunity and organize a session focused on “Western Esotericism and Cognition”. The idea is to explore how modern developments in cognitive studies could be made relevant to the study of Western esotericism, for instance in view of the role of alterations of consciousness as facilitators of “gnosis”, practices of imaginations/visualization, meditation, and so on. Specifically we hope to bridge the gap between psychological, neurological and related perspectives on the one hand, and source-based historical research, on the other (although next to historical approaches, anthropological research of contemporary forms of esotericism will definitely be very welcome too).

Hereby I invite anybody who is interested in participating in this session to send me a proposal. It should consist of (1) a title, (2) a very short abstract, i.e. no more than 2-3 lines, (3) a short biographical statement mentioning your academic background, affiliation etc. Email address: w . j . hanegraaff [at] uva . nl

The deadlines very tight, so in case you are interested, I will need your proposal at extremely short notice: *no later than next friday, February 13*. Please understand that due to heavy time constraints I will not be able to get into any long email discussions back and forth about possible papers topics etcetera. If you are interested, please just send me the title/abstract/bio, in a Word file.

To prevent any misunderstandings or disappointments: in case you are selected, you will of course be responsible for your own travel expenses, lodging, AAR registration fees etcetera.

Looking forward to your response, with best wishes,

Wouter Hanegraaff


This panel would be a great opportunity to do something about the lack of systematic attempts to incorporate CSR approaches in the study of esotericism, which I pointed to in the previous post.


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