Swedenborg and the Arts Conference

Swedenborg and the Arts Conference

June 6-9, 2017
Bryn Athyn College

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This international conference explores Emanuel Swedenborg’s (1688-1772) substantial impact on the arts. A Scandinavian scientist, mystic, and theologian, Swedenborg’s ideas subsequently affected the aesthetics of a broad variety of artists and writers, from Charles Baudelaire, Jorge Luis Borges, and William Blake, to the painters George Inness and Arthur B. Davies (to name but a representative few). This conference is the first of its kind to explicitly focus on Swedenborg’s relation to aesthetics and artistic production. The presentation will do more than simply trace the historical dimensions of such influence, but also examine the dynamics of exchange and the movement between the religious and the aesthetic.

Questions that will be explored include: 

  • What can Swedenborgian influence on the arts tell us about broader relationships between esotericism, spirituality, and culture, and how these relationships might develop?
  • How do Swedenborg’s ideas affect the world of nineteenth and twentieth century (re)enchantment, and how did they trouble or disturb assumptions about modernity and secularism?
  • What might the recent attention to religion, sensation, and materiality within literary studies and art history have to say about Swedenborg’s concepts of spiritual-and-material correspondence—ideas that turned the world “into a living poem,” in Emerson’s phrasing?
  • Where have Swedenborg’s ideas fruitfully encountered other forms of esotericism with strong artistic analogues, such as Theosophy or Mazdaznan?

Putting on a large international conference of this size would be impossible without the generous support and sponsorship from a number of different institutions. The following organizations, entities, and persons have made this conference possible:

  • The Swedenborg Society
  • Glencairn Museum
  • The Swedenborg Scientific Association
  • The Center for Swedenborgian Studies of the Graduate Theological Union
  • The Swedenborg Foundation
  • Bryn Athyn College

For a more detailed description and additional information on keynote speakers, presenters, venue, sponsoring institutions and more, go to https://swedenborgartsconference.wordpress.com or visit our facebook page.