Proposals are sought for an essay collection entitled ‘The Occult Imagination in Britain, 1875-1947’, to be proposed to Ashgate’s new Among the Victorians and the Modernists series. Focusing on the development, popular diffusion, and international networks of British occulture between 1875-1947, the interdisciplinary volume will capitalize on the recent surge of scholarly interest in the late Victorian occult revival by tracing the development of its central and residual manifestations through the fin de siècle and two world wars. We aim to challenge the polarization of Victorian and modernist occult art and practice into discrete expressions of either a nostalgic reaction to the crisis of faith or a radical desire for the new. The collection will also map the affinities between popular and elite varieties of occultism in this period, recognizing the degree to which esoteric activities and texts relied on and borrowed from the exoteric sphere.
At the heart of this volume is a flexible understanding of ‘occulture’, which the editors use to signal an understanding of the occult as a system of cultural networks or webs of associations and influences rather than as a monolithic set of beliefs or practices. The collections takes as its historical parameters the 1875 founding of the Theosophical Society by H.P. Blavatsky and H.S. Olcott and the 1947 death of countercultural occultist and notorious “Great Beast” Aleister Crowley. While we welcome proposals on major occult figures, cultural texts, organizations, and phenomena in this period, we are also particularly keen to receive proposals on lesser-known examples of the period’s occult engagement. Possible topics might include, but are by no means limited to:
• Occultism as /in Popular Culture
• Modernism and Occult Aesthetics
• Women’s occult networks: Evelyn Underhill, Dion Fortune, Anna Kingsford, Emma Hardinge Britten, Annie Besant, Florence Farr, Annie Horniman, and Others
• Performing the Occult on Stage, Screen, and Everyday Life
• Occultism and/as Counterculture
• Geographies of British Occultism: from the Celtic Fringe to the Far East
• The Occult Public Sphere: Periodicals and the Occult
• Making a Modern Occult Canon: Isis Unveiled and after
• Occultists as Celebrities and Fictional Characters
• Occult Historiographies: Imagining Occult Pasts and Futures
• Occultism and War
• The Occult Object: Tarot cards, ritual articles, costumes, manuscripts, scrolls, photographs, and ornaments
• The Occult and the Professional Sciences
Please send an abstract (300-500 words) and a brief biography (100 words) to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com by June 1, 2015. Final essays should be 6,000-7,000 words in length and will be due for submission in August 2016. Contributors may include up to 2 images in their articles, but they are responsible for obtaining and paying for high quality jpegs and any permissions.