Charming Intentions: Occultism, Magic and the History of Art

  • Conference Call
  • Graduate Conference 2012/13

    This two-day graduate conference will investigate the intersections between visual culture and the occult tradition, ranging from the material culture of 'primitive' animism, through medieval and Renaissance depictions of witchcraft and demonology, to the contemporary fascination with the supernatural in popular culture.

    The conference aims to provide a stimulating arena for the presentation of innovative research in this field as well as to offer a vibrant and thought-provoking forum for scholarly discussion and exchange.

    We welcome papers from current and recent graduate students from all disciplines, provided their research engages with material, visual or symbolic aspects of magic and occultism.

    The conference will be held December 3-4, 2012 in Cambridge, United Kingdom and is organised by the Department of History of Art at University of Cambridge.

    Conference Committee

    • Josefine Baark, PhD Candidate, Homerton College
    • Gabriel Byng, PhD Candidate, Clare College
    • Imma Ramos, PhD Candidate, Pembroke College
    • Daniel Zamani, PhD Candidate, Trinity College

    Conference Topics

    Acceptable topics include, but are by no means limited to, the following areas:

    • The sacred and the profane
    • The material culture of magic, ritual and sacrifice
    • Objects of totemic, apotropaeic or fetishistic character
    • Aspects of mysticism in Jewish, Christian and Islamic art and architecture
    • Satanism, witchcraft and demonology
    • Sacred geometry, numerology and cosmology
    • The arcane sciences (including astrology, alchemy, gnosticism, the Hermetic tradition, the Quabalah and the tarot game)
    • Art-theoretical discussions of the spiritual, the sublime, the marvellous, the numinous and the uncanny
    • Artistic investigations of myth, fantasy and utopia
    • Visual aspects of occult movements such as Rosicrucionism, Freemasonry, Theosophy, Mesmerism, Spiritism and New Age Spirituality
    • The supernatural and the spiritual in modern and contemporary art
    • Occultism and magic in contemporary popular culture.

    Presentations should not exceed a maximum of 20 minutes and will be followed by a 10-minute Q&A session. The sessions will be chaired by senior scholars within the University of Cambridge's History of Art Department. We also hope to publish selected conference papers in a book of proceedings.

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