Cambridge Centre for the study of Western Esotericism

Research, Reviews, Conferences




Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK

Anglia Ruskin University have a series of events planned to coincide with the visit of their Leverhulme Professor György Szönyi. Professor Szönyi is giving two lectures: ‘Exaltation and Power: The Historiography of Renaissance Magic’ and ‘The Lure of the Occult: Renaissance Magic in Modern Cultural Representations’. He will also be contributing to two colloquia, the first on Western esoteric traditions in the Renaissance, the second on reinventing the Renaissance occult in modern and post-modern culture.

Lecture 1 – May 6th 2009

This lecture will look at some of the main features of early modern magical ideas and practices and their scholarly interpretations since the beginning of the twentieth century.

Lecture 2 – June 10th 2009

This lecture will look at some English, German, Hungarian and Italian novels which recycle occult and esoteric themes and tries to answer the question: “How can we, if at all, explain the lure of the occult and the esoteric in our postmodern, industrialized world?”

Coloquium 1 – September 20 2009

ColoquiIum 2 – November 14 2009

both on Renaissance Occult Philosophy and some of its later cultural manifestations.


Professor Gyorgy Szonyi
Selected Publications

6 monographs, 11 edited volumes, 91 articles in the fields of Renaissance research, English and Hungarian studies in periodicals, collections of essays, encyclopedias. Book reviews, essays, critiques on Hungarian culture and current European issues. Two novels (1983, 2002) and short stories

Gli angeli di John Dee. Roma: Tre Editori, 2004, 170 pages, 9 illustrations.

John Dee’s Occultism. Magical Exaltation Through Powerful Signs. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2004 (Series in Western Esoterism), 350 pages, 32 illustrations.

Pictura & Scriptura. Hagyományalapú kulturális reprezentációk 20. századi elméletei [Pictura & Scriptura: 20th-century Theories of Tradition-based Cultural Representations]. Szeged: JATEPress, 2004 (Ikonológia és muértelmezés 10), 324 pages, 54 illustrations.

Edited Books and Journal Issues:
“The Voices of the English Renaissance.” Special Issue, Hungarian Journal of English and American Studies 11.1 (2005), 253 pages.

The Iconography of Power: Ideas and Images of Rulership on the English Renaissance Stage. Szeged: JATE Press, 2000 (Papers in English & American Studies 8), 214 pages, illustrated. With Rowland Wymer.

European Iconography East & West. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1996 (Symbola & Emblemata 7), 263 pages, illustrated

Selected Articles and Book Chapters since 2001:
“The Dark Offsprings of Humanism: Erasmus, Reuchlin, and the Magical Renaissance.” In Marcell Sebök (ed.), Republic of Letters, Humanism, Humanities. Budapest: Collegium Budapest (Workshop Series 15), 2005, 107-25.

“John Dee as Cultural, Scientific, Apocalyptic Go-Between.” In Andreas Höfele, Werner von Koppenfels (ed.), Renaissance Go-Betweens. Cultural Exchange in Early Modern Europe. Berlin, New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2005, 88-104.

“Occult Semiotics and Iconology: Michael Maier’s Alchemical Emblems.” In Karl Enenkel – Arnoud Visser (ed.). Mundus Emblematicus: Studies in Neo-Latin Emblem Books. Turnhout: Brepols, 2003 (Imago Figurata, Studies 4), 301-25.

“Le intuizioni di Aby Warburg alla luce delle sfide postmoderne”. In Carlo Bertozzi (ed.), Aby Warburg e le metamorfosi degli antichi dèi. Modena: Franco Cosimo Panini, 2002, 183-203.




Over the last hundred years many creative writers, critics, thinkers and artists – for example Peter Ackroyd, Derek Jarman, Carl Jung and Marina Warner – have turned to the magicians and alchemists of the Renaissance period for inspiration. Some have been drawn to the intriguing remoteness of such figures from our own more scientific and sceptical age. Others, by contrast, have sought to discover unexpected points of contact between the mysteries of the occult and more modern mysteries, such as quantum science. The lure of the occult today may partly be explained by a growing dissatisfaction with Enlightenment rationalism and its perceived failure to address fundamental human concerns.

This conference, which will take place on Saturday 14 November 2009 at Anglia Ruskin University, will explore these more recent aspects of the afterlife of the Renaissance Occult. We welcome brief proposals for 30 minute papers from creative writers and scholars in any relevant field. Keynote speakers will include Professor Gyorgy Szonyi, a Leverhulme Visiting Professor from the University of Szeged, Dr Ewan Fernie (Royal Holloway) and Professor Marina Warner (Essex). Please send your abstract to by 31.5.09.


The CAMBRIDGE CENTRE for the study of WESTERN ESOTERICISM is independent of any academic or esoteric communities, the directors share an interest in the need for a wider dialogue between scholars and practitioners in the field of Western Esotericism and in the establishment of a secular space in which an interdisciplinary network can thrive.. From 2009 CCWE has operated within Lighthouse editions Limited, a small publishing company Directors: Dr Sophia Wellbeloved, Jeremy Cranswick – see



May 12, 2009 at 10:16 pm

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