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Past Events

Past Events

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Decadence, Magic(k), and the Occult

Goldsmiths, University of London, 19-20 July 2018

Keynote speaker: Professor Patricia Pulham (University of Surrey)
Plenary speaker: Gary Lachman


Nineteenth-century Decadence coincided with a resurgence of esotericism, alternative religions, and a belief in magic as a rejection of secularism and science. Until now, this intersection has been most richly considered in relation to Catholicism. Most well-known is Huysmans’s tetralogy, which traces Durtal’s movement from the Black Mass to the monastery. However, Decadent literature has a much more complicated relationship with mystical, supernatural, and magical realms, one which extends beyond a simple rejection of Christian faith and has a legacy reaching beyond the long nineteenth century.

This two-day interdisciplinary conference is hosted by the Decadence Research Unit at Goldsmiths. Our aim is to investigate the role of occultism and magic(k) in the Decadent literary and artistic tradition through a consideration of the relationship between Decadence and the esoteric revival of the fin de siècle, providing an opportunity to re-examine the Occult roots of Decadence and explore the wide range of artistic responses to the blurred boundaries between Decadence, mysticism, ritual, and the Dark Arts. Is the meeting of practical magic and literary esotericism indicative of a symbiotic relationship between Decadence and the Occult, or does it represent merely another aspect of the Decadent rejection of mainstream ideologies? 


Volupté,  Issue 2 (2018), will continue the theme of Decadence and its relationship to the Occult and will include some selected papers from the conference.

Please visit volupte.gold.ac.uk for more information.


Conference Organizers

Jane Desmarais (Goldsmiths, University of London)
Alice Condé (Goldsmiths, University of London),
Jessica Gossling (Goldsmiths, University of London)
Robert Pruett (St Cross College, University of Oxford)



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