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I joined the Enchanted Modernities Network in December 2012 as the project’s Network Facilitator just one month after its foundation, so I’ve been with the project for six months now. I wanted to join the Team following my PhD in History of Art in order continue working actively in academia and the role particularly appealed to me due to my previous experience of administration, communications and logistics, for a ventilation company of all things!

I work part-time for the Network, often in the University of York’s modern and serene Humanities Research Centre building the Berrick Saul, where I have a desk in the research projects area with a calming view of the oak tree around which the building is contoured. I am there this morning, having risen early to walk my Labrador and leave home in time to beat the York rush hour. Today I’m working on the transition of the programme for the Network’s first conference, Enchanted Modernities: Theosophy and the arts in the modern world, 25-27 September 2013, Amsterdam from a Microsoft Word document to an interactive format available through our dedicated conference website (http://www.york.ac.uk/history-of-art/amsterdam-theosophy-conference/). I’m also preparing for a meeting with the Network’s leader Sarah Victoria Turner in which we will be finalising details for the website and the registration system, which will enable attendees to register for the conference online. This is something that we have been working on intensely in liaison with the Network Partners and co-conference organisers Marco Pasi (based in Amsterdam) and Chris Scheer (based in Utah, USA) over the last few weeks. The Network has been a hive of activity during the prior to the release of the conference information with many an email flying back and forth and Skype meetings a plenty. The work of a Network Facilitator is centred on ensuring the smooth running of the Network events and exhibitions. I act chiefly as a link between the Network Partners and various other scholars involved with the Network. My job is to keep everyone connected and that is both a challenging and an exciting role as the number of scholars interested in the Network grows days by day.

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Although I am not an expert in the area of research pursued by the Network my research into the work of British women artists is concerned with the late nineteenth century so it overlaps with that of the Network. Through my work with the Network, I am discovering intriguing connections between the work of the women I study and Theosophy, spiritualism and mysticism. Just recently, I found that an artist I have been working on, Maria (née Cassavetti) Zambaco was regarded by her contemporaries as a follower of Blavatsky and arranged gatherings that were considered to have Theosophist inclinations. That is just one fascinating example of Theosophy’s relevance to so many areas of study in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

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The deadline for submitting proposals has expired. We are very happy to report that we have received more than 70 proposals, some of outstanding quality. It is a fantastic response to our call, and we will start now evaluating and selecting the proposals. Results will be made available to prospective speakers around the end of March.‌

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We are pleased to announce the launch of our new, dedicated conference website.

Visit http://www.york.ac.uk/history-of-art/amsterdam-theosophy-conference/ for details of our first conference, Enchanted Modernities: Theosophy and the arts in the modern world, 25-27 September 2013, Amsterdam.

The Enchanted Modernities: Theosophy, Modernism and the Arts, c. 1875-1960 International Network will hold its first conference at the University of Amsterdam from 25-27 September 2013. We would be delighted to receive an abstract from you if you are interested in speaking at the conference.

Further information on the Network can be found by visiting our website at:
http://www.york.ac.uk/history-of-art/enchanted-modernities

Dr Marco Pasi (M.Pasi@uva.nl) will be pleased to answer any questions you have about the conference.

All best wishes,

The Enchanted Modernities Team

We are delighted to announce the launch of the Enchanted Modernities: Theosophy, Modernism and the Arts, c. 1875-1960 website.

Enchanted Modernities is an International Network funded by the Leverhulme Trust. Through a series of events, exhibitions and concerts, the Network is exploring the relationship between Theosophy and the arts c. 1875-1960. Find out more about the partners, our programme of events and how to keep up-to-date with the project by visiting www.york.ac.uk/history-of-art/enchanted-modernities.

Please do circulate this notice to any colleagues who might be interested in the Network.

 
With all best wishes,
 
The Enchanted Modernities Project Team

European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism in cooperation with the University of Szeged and its Cultural Iconology and Semiography Research Group announces its 3rd international conference on The Visual and the Symbolic in Western Esotericism.

July 6-10, 2011, Szeged, Hungary

Papers are invited in English, focusing on verbal and visual representations of Western Esotericism from late Antiquity to the present age.

INVITED KEYNOTE SPEAKERS INCLUDE
Michael J. B. Allen (UC, Los Angeles)
Lina Bolzoni (Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa)
Pia Brinzeu (University of the West, Timisoara)
Moshe Idel (Hebrew University, Jerusalem)

Please send the title of your proposed 20 minutes’ paper with your affiliation and a short abstract via e-mail to György E. Szönyi: <geszonyi@lit.u-szeged.hu> by February 15, 2011

A colloquium  held at Liverpool Hope University
3 December 2010

Founded in 1875, The Theosophical Society fused the study and practice of ancient mystical traditions with a commitment to shape, rather than reject, the modern world. Its ubiquitous worldwide presence in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century culture, along with various splinter groups, has been used to refute Max Weber’s theory that modernity brought about the absolute ‘disenchantment of the world’. Evidence of Theosophy’s ‘modern enchantment’ has led historians such as Alex Owen and Corinna Treital to question the orthodox assumption that, from the Enlightenment onwards, God was replaced by rational man. Theosophy’s widespread influence also supports Michael Saler’s claim that enchanted cultures of magic, wonder, and belief were not as incompatible with modernity as Weber would have us believe. Pre-Enlightenment cultures of enchantment not only persisted, but were fundamental and foundational to modern culture.

Scholars such as Owen and Treital have laid a foundation for understanding Theosophy’s role in shaping modernity, but the extent of its influence on modern arts and ideas has yet to be fully explored. In this colloquium, we seek to consider the influence of Theosophical ideas and practices on intellectual and artistic endeavour during the period from the late nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth century. The visual, theatrical, and musical arts of this period retained a pre-Enlightenment sense of enchantment and wonder by virtue of the perceived metaphysical origins of the creative and appreciative act, which science could not satisfactorily explain. The ‘enchantment’ of artistic creation and appreciation allied it to the aims of the Theosophical Society and satellite organizations, which we suggest had a stronger influence on the arts at this time than hitherto accepted. Exploring the relationship between Theosophy, the arts, and intellectual change promises to open up new histories of modernity in which
traditionally marginal belief structures are seen to have shaped the modern experience in fundamental ways.

Organising Committee:
Helena Capkova (University of the Arts London), Rachel Cowgill (Liverpool Hope University),
James G. Mansell (University of Nottingham), Christopher Scheer (Utah State
University/Liverpool Hope University) and Sarah Victoria Turner (University of York)