Masculinities, Sexualities and Esotericism Special issue in Correspondences

deadline for submissions: 
November 1, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Correspondences: Journal for the Study of Esotericism

Call for Proposals

Masculinities, Sexualities and Esotericism

Special issue in Correspondences

 Guest editors: Tanya Cheadle (University of Glasgow) and Christine Ferguson (University of Stirling)

The journalCorrespondencesinvites proposals for contributions to a special issue on masculinities, sexualities and esotericism. Gender as an analytical approach has gained significant momentum within esotericism studies, with an accumulating body of work on women, femininities and feminism within a range of esoteric traditions, including Theosophy, Rosicrucianism, Spiritualism, Swedenborgianism, Satanism, Behmenism, Paganism, mesmerism and freemasonry. Literary and cultural articulations of gender and gender politics have constituted a particularly productive research area, as has related work on sexualities, including on sex magic, sexology, and queer practices and identities. The tracing of further interdisciplinary points of connection is being aided by the recent establishment of an Esotericism, Gender and Sexuality network (ESOGEN) affiliated to the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE). 

What remains underrepresented within this emergent scholarly field is a specific focus on men, masculinities and sexualities, an elision this special issue seeks to remedy. Since the advent of masculinity studies nearly three decades ago, when John Tosh characterised masculinity in the historical record as ‘everywhere but nowhere’, scholars working in numerous fields have worked to decentre and problematize the male norm, through empirical studies of pluralized masculinities in diverse cultures, periods and contexts.[i] This work has confirmed the salience of masculinity to an understanding of numerous aspects of our national and international cultures, societies and politics. In the process, foundational theoretical models of masculine hierarchies and the mechanics of gendered power have been comprehensively revised, with new work questioning the existence of one hegemonic form of masculinity predominating and legitimising patriarchy in any given society.[ii] Instead, the formation of masculine identity is now more likely to be understood as a fluid process occurring within diverse ‘communication communities’ or ‘cultural circuits’, such as esoteric subcultures and networks, with a new recognition of the ways in which male identities are always intersected by other modalities of power, including race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, ability and age.[iii]

This special issue seeks to establish men, masculinities and sexualities as a vital, trenchant and timely field of enquiry within esotericism studies. It endeavours to do this in two ways. Firstly, it seeks to create interdisciplinary dialogue between history of religions, gender studies and related fields to allow the identification of critical avenues for future exploration. Secondly, it aims to elucidate the very latest theoretical and methodological approaches currently being used by scholars of masculinities and indicate how they might be productively deployed to create new frameworks in which to think about esotericism. Contemporary gender and sexual politics render this intervention an urgent one: the resurgence of heteropatriarchy within public discourse and society, evidenced by the #MeToo moment, the masculinist rhetoric of populist and Alt-right politicians and commentators, and enduring patterns of male violence, highlight the imperative to expose, analyse and challenge gendered and sexual hegemonies within all systems of knowledge, while also identifying the feminist practices required to enact progressive gender change.


Contributions are warmly encouraged from authors at all career stages, including independent scholars, working individually or collaboratively within any discipline. Potential topics could include but are not limited to the following:

- male selfhood and subjectivity

- the male body and embodiment, including ideas and experiences of disability

- male intimacies and relationships (friendship and familial)

- queer and trans masculinities

- emotions; emotional regimes and communities

- gender and sexual politics, including feminism and gay rights

- ‘man’ and/or ‘gender’ as ontological categories

- sexual rituals and magic

- sexual knowledge and education

- masculine norms/ideals; masculine hierarchies

- literary, artistic, cultural and popular articulations of manhood, masculinities and sexualities

- sexological, psycho-analytic and scientific understandings

- masculinities and race, imperialism and post-colonialism


Detailed proposals (up to 1,000 words) for full articles (8,000 to 10,000 words), as well as a short biography (max. 100 words) should be sent to both editors by 1 November 2020. Please contact the editors at any stage with queries. Final drafts of articles will be due by 1 September 2021.


Tanya Cheadle is Lecturer in Gender History at the University of Glasgow. Tanya’s research focuses on feminist, socialist and esoteric networks and subcultures in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Britain and Scotland. She is the author ofSexual Progressives: Reimagining Intimacy in Scotland, 1880-1914 (Manchester University Press, 2020) and is currently engaged on a Carnegie Trust-funded project on ‘Adepts of Manhood: Masculinity and Power in Scotland’s Occult Revival, 1880-1914’.

Christine Ferguson is Professor in English Studies at the University of Stirling. Christine’s research focuses on the entwined histories of the literary gothic and the British occult revival at the Victorian fin de siècle. She is the author ofDetermined Spirits: Eugenics, Heredity, and Racial Regeneration in Anglo-American Spiritualist Writing, 1848-1930 (Edinburgh University Press, 2012) andLanguage, Science, and Popular Fiction in the Victorian Fin de Siècle(Routledge, 2006).



[i] John Tosh, ‘What Should Historians Do with Masculinity? Reflections on Nineteenth-Century Britain’, History Workshop 38 (1994), p. 180.

[ii] The seminal text on ‘hegemonic masculinity’ is R. W. Connell, Masculinities (Polity Press, 1995). For recent historical revisions of Connell, see John Tosh, ‘Hegemonic masculinity and the history of gender’, in Stefan Dudink, Karen Hagermann and John Tosh (eds), Masculinities in Politics and War: Gendering Modern History (Manchester University Press, 2004), and Ben Griffin, ‘Hegemonic Masculinity as a Historical Problem’, Gender & History, 30: 2 (July 2018), pp. 377-400.

[iii] Griffin, ‘Hegemonic Masculinity’, pp. 385-6.