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Arcane Worlds: New Frontiers in the Study of Esotericism

The goal of this course is to dive deeper into the study of esotericism. In this three-week summer course, you will study in-person with some of the most respected academics in the fields of esotericism, alchemy, gnosticism, art and occultism, conspiracy theories, the New Age, and psychedelic culture. During classes, students will make use of primary sources, as well as secondary literature that clarify the way in which esoteric ideas have circulated and continue to circulate in both mainstream culture and more marginal contexts. This programme is offered in cooperation with the Centre for the History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents, the world’s leading institute for academic research and teaching in the field of (western) esotericism, located at the University of Amsterdam.

  • Programme at a glance
    Mode of instruction: On-campus (3 weeks)
    Academic dates: Sunday 7 July - Thursday 25 July 2024
    Housing dates: Friday 5 July - Monday 29 July 2024
    Academic fee:

    Student fee:

    €1750. Read more about what is included in the fees

    Working Professional fee: 

    €2000. Read more about what is included in the fees

    Housing fee: €1000 for a private room with private facilities. Housing is optional. Read more about university-organised accomodation
    Credits: 6 European Credits. Read more about credits and credit transfer
    Early admissions deadline:

    Thursday 1 February 2024.  

    Students who require a Schengen Visa to study in the Netherlands are strongly advised to apply before the early deadline to ensure there is enough time to secure a visa appointment before the programme begins.

    Regular admissions deadline: Friday 15 March 2024 
    Who is this programme for?                                                                                                                                                                                          

    Level: Advanced Bachelors, Masters, PhD Researchers, Postgraduate and working professionals

    Background: Any discipline with experience in studying and thinking about the occult and esoteric topics. A general interest in the humanities and social sciences are necessary.

  • Programme description

    The study of esotericism is a broad and many-faceted field. In the past, it has been described as 'othered knowledge', and esotericism has often been treated as a fringe pseudo-science, or at best, forgotten or obsolete knowledge. However, in recent years, there has been a steadily growing movement within the academy to study esotericism in its many expressesions within a scholarly framework. 

    The goal of this course is to  bring together participants who are passionate about the esoteric and the occult, enabling them to delve deeply into how these studies, traditions, and related currents can be comprehended through developing a flexible yet rigorous scholarly framework. 

    Throughout this programme, participants will make use of primary sources, as well as secondary literature that clarify the way in which esoteric ideas have circulated and continue to circulate in both mainstream culture and more marginal contexts. These traditions are diverse, and are drawn upon by many historical, cultural, scientific, religious, and artistic movements and expressions, and have come to permeate many aspects of historical and contemporary life. 

    Our investigation into representations of the esoteric and the occult will go beyond the written word to include film, music, and graphic novels, as we explore together the important movements in esotericism in the past and reflect on how it manifests itself today, in the present. During the programme, participants will also have the opportunity to visit the Embassy of the Free Mind, home to the Ritman Library: the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica.

  • Academic directors

    Dr. Marco Pasi is the Director of the Centre for the History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents. He holds a Laurea degree in Philosophy from the University of Milan, and a DEA and a PhD in Religious studies from the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (Sorbonne, Paris). He has focused his research mainly on the relationship between modern esotericism and politics, modern esotericism and art, and the history of the idea of magic. He is the editor in chief of the Aries Book Series (Brill), and a founding member of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE). He has been co-chair of the Western Esotericism Group at the American Academy of Religion (AAR) and the General Secretary of the European Association for the Study of Religions (EASR).

    Dr. J. Christian Greer is a scholar of esotericism specializing in the global history of psychedelic spirituality. He received his PhD (cum laude) in Western esotericism from the History of Hermetic Philosophy department at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). He also holds Masters’ degrees from UvA and Harvard Divinity School. His latest book, Kumano Kodo: Pilgrimage to Powerspots (OSGH Press) analyzes pilgrimage folklore that animates the rainforest landscapes of Japan's Kii peninsula, and his forthcoming book, Angelheaded Hipsters: Psychedelic Militancy in Nineteen Eighties North America (Oxford University Press), explores the expansion of psychedelic culture in the late Cold War era. After holding teaching and research positions at Harvard University and Yale University, he is now a lecturer at Stanford University.

    Brennan Kettelle is a PhD researcher at the Centre for History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents (HHP), University of Amsterdam. Brennan holds a B.A. (Saint Michael’s College, 2012) in Psychology and Gender studies, an MA (cum laude) in Gender and Cultural studies (Simmons College, 2016) and a research MA (cum laude) in Western esotericism (University of Amsterdam, 2021). She is currenting writing her doctoral dissertation - Her Dark Breath: Queer Currents within Nineteenth-Century Discourses on Lilith - which focuses on historical associations between the religiomythic demoness and queer sexualities within art, literature, and sociopolitical movements. Brennan also teaches an 8-week online course on Lilith - focusing on Lilith’s origins and cultural receptions within Western esotericism - for the Brooklyn-based organization Morbid Anatomy. Utilizing monster theory and queer theory in her research, Brennan is more broadly interested in investigating themes of the ‘monstrous-queer’ within esoteric literature, orders, and figures, as well as esoteric themes within queer subcultures, politics, and histories

     

  • Explore our community

    To get a preview of some of the topics covered and get to know the academic directors, listen to Episode 10: Visions of the Occult, of Mokum Podcast. Marco and Christian talk about not only the winter programme, but the study of esotericism broadly, and its importance for understanding the world today. 

    Want to get to know more about studying in Amsterdam? Follow us on social media and join our summer community. Get a feel for our summer school vibe and our academic and social community, and learn about studying with us through the eyes of past summer school students. 

    Instagram | Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter

Facts & Figures
Mode
Short-term
Credits
6 ECTS, 3 weeks
Language of instruction
English
Conditions for admission
Open
Starts in
July