Swedenborg and the Arts Conference

Swedenborg and the Arts Conference

2019 Conference – Swedenborg’s Influence on Nineteenth Century America

Additional information about the 2019 Conference coming soon!

2017 Conference

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View the full list of speakers and presentations here

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.

oil painting of a sunset over water painting of an angel painting of a town with a train

Questions that were 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?
painting of a storm rolling through a field painting of an individual curled up in a ball painting of the moon at night

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 facebookopens in a new window page.