Special Panel: Magical Projections through the Mirror of the Silver Screen

deadline for submissions: 
November 14, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Southwest Popular/American Culture Association
contact email: 

This conference panel for the Area for Esotericism, Occultism. and Magic at the Southwest Popular/American Culture Association (Feb 23-26) investigates esoteric, magical, and occult experiences of -- and through -- cinema.  Screenwriters, directors, and set designers have played with film's narrative modalities, its special effects, and its optical and auditory features in order to depict, and in some cases induce, altered states of consciousness.  The filmic medium offers manifold ways to represent and explore the symbolic correspondences and meanings that characterize esoteric worldviews, but it also offers the immersion and versatility necessary to describe as well as deploy methods of trance and non-ordinary transitions of awareness -- or to be used as an aid in combination with other methods.  The technology of film itself, in all of its manifestations, retains the dual significance of an actual record yet also implies the numerous processes through which that record can be manipulated.  While a few notable filmmakers (Kenneth Anger, Alejandro Jodorowsky, among others) have made explicitly esoteric, occult, or magical films, and contemporary magicians who embrace media technology as a tool of praxis have included film production, consumption, and manipulation among their repertoire of techniques, many more filmmakers have drawn on the legacy of cultural conceptions of magic and the occult for primarily aesthetic, immersive, or simulative purposes.  This has nevertheless reciprocally produced a broad selection of aesthetic content that has influenced popular perceptions of magic and the occult, simultaneously becoming available to practitioners as metaphor and vehicle.  Wider associations of film with persuasion, propaganda, hypnosis and trance-induction, brainwashing, and directly supernatural and paranormal activity (as facilitator, record, or both), as well as casual expressions referring to "movie magic" and so forth have coalesced to make the silver screen the magic mirror of the 20th, and perhaps early 21st, century, with the cinema as the cave of the mysteries and the stars its deified heroes and heroines, ultimately subject to some of the same projections of fantasy and conspiracy as historical aristocrats and magicians.  Papers addressing any aspect of the interaction and intersection of film culture, film production, and film technology with esotericism, occultism, and magic, from any disciplinary, interdisciplinary, or transdisciplinary perspective, are welcome to apply to this panel.  Please contact the Area Chair of Esotericism, Occultism, and Magic, Dr. George Sieg, directly at georgejsieg@gmail.com -- preferably as soon as possible given the deadline extension until November 14.  Copies of the full Area CFP can also be requested by email, containing details about the conference from February 23-26 in Albuquerque, New Mexico and also containing extensive information about the Area and suggestions for topics across media.