We are looking for contributions to an edited volume on "Surrealism and the occult" which seeks to reflect the importance of esotericism in Surrealist art, film and literature, with a particular focus on its role as a site of ideological contestation.
Possible topics include, but are by no means limited to, the following areas:
Surrealism and the paranormal
Surrealism, alchemy and Hermetic philosophy
Surrealism and magic
Surrealism, witchcraft and satanism
Surrealism and the Gothic novel
Historical and literary sources for Surrealist engagement with the occult
The place of the occult in the work of individual artists and writers (i.e. Michel Leiris, Louis Aragon, Yves Tanguy, Leonor Fini, Octavio Paz, Dorothea Tanning, Toyen, Valentine Penrose, Herbert Read, Unica Zuern, etc.)
Case studies of occultism, magic and alchemy in specific works (i.e. "Arcane 17", "Aurora", "Paris Peasant", "The Goose of Hermogenes" etc.)
Anyone with an interest in contributing to this volume should send an abstract of c. 1000 words to firstname.lastname@example.org alongside a bio-sketch of no more than 300 words. Deadline for submission of abstracts will be 15 August 2014.
***Early submissions are stronly encouraged.***
The editors (Dr Tessel Bauduin, Dr Victoria Ferentinou, Daniel Zamani)
* * *
"The question of the relevance of religious, spiritual and occult currents for modernism and most specifically the relationship between occultism and modern art have recently attracted the attention of scholars who are keen on reconceptualizing art history and its grand narratives. Within this context surrealism's fascination with heterodox systems of thought provides one of the most intriguing and complex case studies and begs for critical re-assessment and analysis.
Although the surrealists were hostile to institutional religion, they were attracted to occultism which they strategically employed as an arena for socio-political transgression and a medium through which to subvert dominant western aesthetics and poetics. Nevertheless, André Breton's and other surrealists' growing interest in occultism, especially in the 1940s and 1950s, has been often regarded as regressive, reactionary, escapist or outmoded by scholars who failed to situate the surrealists' esoteric preoccupations in context and to acknowledge the specificities and complexities of esotericism which they, deliberately or not, confused with religion and metaphysics.
The central objective of this edited volume is to revisit this stereotypical and reductive view and explore in depth the relationship between Western esotericism and surrealism from a critical perspective. Most specifically it aims to explore the reception and appropriation of esoteric tropes, themes, concepts and techniques by individual artists associated with the surrealist movement and/or by different surrealist groups in Europe and the Americas. Its central focus will be the use of esotericism as a site of resistance, subversion and revolution, in other words esotericism will be viewed vis-à-vis surrealism's counter-cultural politics and its aspiration to transform the world poetically and socially.
Special attention will be paid to the ways occultism was implicated in the surrealist discourses on identity, gender, sexuality, utopianism and radicalism and to what extent this engagement was appropriated in different geographical contexts and/or by different groups. For example, certain chapters will deal with the interest of Andre Breton and members of the Parisian circle, Georges Bataille and the dissident surrealists, the Grand Jeu group, women artists affiliated with surrealism and surrealists working outside France."
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