Theme/ Call For Papers


8th Biannual Conference of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE)

Western Esotericism and Creativity: Art, Performance and Innovation

University College Cork, 5-7 July 2022

This conference brings together scholars who seek to examine the intersections of Western Esotericism and artforms, creative performance and production. The theme is open to broad interpretation, as well as geographical scope and historical and cultural context from antiquity to the present day. The relationship between diverse genres of the arts and Western Esotericism are close and multivalent; many artists, historical and contemporary, are practising occultists or influenced by esoteric philosophies or practices. The theme encourages explorations of manifestations of spiritual creativity and the relationship between esoteric symbols, principles and religious frameworks, and the production of artwork. A multitude of examples of esoteric-inspired art can be identified, from literature and music to painting and photography. Examinations can also be made of the interconnection between innovation and esotericism, and attention paid to historical and philosophical developments in alchemy and other so-called ‘occult sciences’, or this aspect can be explored in terms of scholarly theoretical and methodological innovations in the field of Western Esotericism. Specific sub-themes could include:

–           Esoteric themes in art

–           Otherworldly encounters and creativity

–           Ritual, performance, and esotericism

–           Esotericism and literature

–           Art and music as techniques in esoteric practice

–           Aesthetic dimensions of Western Esotericism

–           Occultism, artistic expression, and popular culture

The broad conference theme encourages cross-disciplinary engagement, from scholars of religion, philosophers, historians, art historians, musicologists, literary scholars, psychologists, and anthropologists as well as allowing the integration of perspectives and dialogue in relation to examinations of different dimensions of Western esotericism, whether in historical contexts or contemporary social and popular manifestations, in its experiential aspects or its philosophical strands.

The year 2022 is a commemorative year in Ireland as in 1922 the Irish Free State was founded. During the preceding Revolutionary Period, artists of the Irish Literary Revival or ‘Celtic Twilight’ artistic movement, such as William Butler Yeats, Ella Young, and George Russell, were involved in political movements and nationalist endeavours as well as folklore collection, and were practicing occultists, and the conference aims to explore such intersections of esotericism, art, politics, and nationalism in Ireland and far beyond.

Extended Call for Papers / Panels

Submission Deadline (Extension): 25th February 2022, 12am Midnight (GMT).

While the aim is for ESSWE8 to be a large, cross-disciplinary, and inclusive conference, paper and panel proposals will go through a careful selection process so as to ensure that the final programme will be of high academic quality as well as focused on the conference theme. We encourage scholars across disciplines to creatively consider the theme and to come up with innovative analytical perspectives and frameworks that examine specific historical and cultural contexts, source materials, unique cases, and topics.

As always, the ESSWE wants to provide a platform for intensive exchange and collaborative networking between scholars from diverse perspectives, regions, and on all levels of the academy. In this regard, postgraduate students as well as more experienced and established scholars are all encouraged to participate and submit proposals for papers or panels. In the many intersections that this conference theme shines a light on, we are confident that ESSWE8 will be a foundational event for developing collaborations in the field and establishing new research avenues for the future.

Individual paper presentations should have a length of 20 minutes, leaving 10 minutes for discussion.

The conference language is English.


ESSWE8 will take place at University College Cork in Cork city, Ireland as a fully in-person conference on campus.


If you have any questions regarding your submission, please contact: