Enchanted Modernities: Theosophy, the Arts and the American West

Sarah V. Turner, James Mansell and Christopher Sheer, editors 

It is in America that the transformation will take place, and has already silently commenced – MADAME BLAVATSKY

With these words, written in The Secret Doctrine in 1888, Helena Blavatsky drew a direct connection to the dynamic energy of nineteenth-century Americanism and the Theosophical Society. She and her successors would specify the American West as the site for a rebirth and re-enchantment of humanity, drawing those seeking spiritual fulfilment outside of organized religion to the dramatic landscapes of California, Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico. The syncretic nature of Theosophy encouraged individualism in belief, fitting well the popular notions of freedom and personal agency used to characterize the American West.

In 2014, the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum at Utah State University staged the first exhibition to explore artistic responses to the confluence of enchanted thought in the American West in the early twentieth century. Building on this research, Enchanted Modernities: Theosophy, the Arts and the American West will be the first publication devoted to these relationships in art and music. Through a series of interlocked contextual essays, interviews, and interpretations of individual works by the exhibition’s curators and invited scholars, this publication will explore the role of Theosophical thought in fostering dynamic cultural networks in the region that redefine the relationship between enchantment and modernism.

PUBLICATION  DUE: Summer, 2018

Visions of Enchantment: Occultism, Magic and Visual Culture

Daniel Zamani, Judith Noble, editors

Select Papers from the University of Cambridge Conference, March 2014.

Contributions include: Christiane Gruber: “‘Go Wherever You Wish, for Verily You are Well Protected’: Seal Designs in Late Ottoman Amulet Scrolls and Prayer Books”; Antje Bosselmann-Ruickbie: “Protection Against Evil in Byzantium: Magical Amulets from the Early to the Late Byzantine Period”; Lyle Dechant: “Nudity, Privacy, and the Female Body: Another Look at the Leipzig Love Magic Panel”; Deanna Petherbridge: “Leaky Vessels and Devil’s Dugs”; Antoine Faivre: “Visual art in Christian theosophy: Engravings in Jacob Boehme’s Works (1682) and in the 18th century”; Nikola Piperkov: “Mercury, Venus and Alchemy in Rudolfian Prague: The Variations of Bartholomaeus Spranger on Correggio’s Education of Eros”; E. Warlick: “Women and Alchemy: The Rewards and Pitfalls of a Feminist Approach”; Nathan J. Timpano: “The angel, the mermaid, and the ouroborous: Franz von Stuck and the iconography of alchemy”; Leo Ruickbie: “The Devil’s Livery: The Role of Nudity in the Depiction of Witchcraft, Wicca and Satanism”; Victoria Ferentinou: “A Witch in Search of Myth: Enchanted Visions of Female Transgression and Empowerment in the Oeuvre of Leonora Carrington”; Judith Noble: “The Wedding of Light and Matter – Alchemy and Magic in the Films of Derek Jarman”.