Special Panel: "Pop Culture Magic: Chaos, Memes, and Social Media" (Esotericism & Occultism Area)

deadline for submissions: 
November 24, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Southwest Popular/American Culture Association
contact email: 

Special Panel CFP : “Pop Culture Magic: Chaos, Memes, and Social Media”

In the Esotericism & Occultism Area of the Southwest Popular/American Culture Association

Annual Conference, Albuquerque, February 19-22, 2020

The use of “pop culture” aesthetics, imagery, and references by practitioners of esotericism, magic, and occultism can be identified throughout the twentieth century (if not prior), and post-millennial “occulture” has exhibited a dramatic increase in this trend, which seems to have begun gathering its present momentum even in the first wave of the “chaos magic” movement of the 1980s.  Concurrently, popular cultural representations of magical practice have proliferated exponentially into the contemporary period.  In various instances, the overlap is nearly complete, with some magical practitioners explicitly presenting their work as utilizing pop culture, as well as creators of pop culture content as well as celebrities casually and openly identifying their work or lives as being magical in character, or including magical practice.  While the use of metafiction for magical purposes can be identified in the work of renowned literary figures such as William S. Burroughs, or in obscure esoteric instances such as the “sinister fiction” of specific Left-Hand Path esoteric systems, the use of metafiction as a technique of magic utilizing popular culture is now often directly represented in popular culture media about magic, particular magic-focused role-playing games set in the contemporary period.  In the context of magical art, the ease by which esoteric and occult aesthetics can be incorporated into online images and broadly disseminated has spawned genres of “meme magic” and “occult memes” available across the internet, and particularly on forums, feeds, and social media.  These phenomena have variously been deployed, and even in some cases originated by, creators and proponents of “metapolitics” as a confluence of propaganda, political activism, culture war, and subversive humor. 

The Area for Esotericism & Occultism seeks proposals for contributions to a special panel of three to four papers addressing these trends, themes, and vectors from any and all applicable perspectives ranging from the transdisciplinary to the sub-disciplinary.   Papers proposed for the special panel but not selected for inclusion will still apportioned to other appropriate panels, of which a diverse selection should be available.  Similarly, the Area is interested in any and all proposals related to any aspect of Esotericism & Occultism in popular culture, and a number of other special panels are also open.

To suggest a proposal for this or another special panel, or to request the full CFP for the Area, please contact Dr. George J. Sieg, Area Chair of Esotericism & Occultism.


Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute

(505) 440-2105