Faculty of Humanities
University of Amsterdam

Scientific Committee

Who is who

Wouter J. Hanegraaff is Professor of History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, a member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences, and past President of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism.  Alongside numerous articles, he is the author of New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought (Leiden 1996/Albany 1998); Lodovico Lazzarelli (1447-1500): The Hermetic Writings and Related Documents (Tempe 2005; with Ruud M. Bouthoorn); Swedenborg, Oetinger, Kant: Three Perspectives on the Secrets of Heaven (West Chester 2007); Esotericism and the Academy: Rejected Knowledge in Western Culture (Cambridge 2012); and Western Esotericism: A Guide for the Perplexed (London 2013). He has also (co)edited seven collective volumes, including the Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism (Leiden 2005) and Hidden Intercourse: Eros and Sexuality in the History of Western Esotericism (New York 2011; with Jeffrey J. Kripal). His current projects are focused on the reception of the Hermetic writings since late antiquity, the history of the occult in German Idealism and Romanticism, and the role of the imagination and altered stated of consciousness in Western esotericism.

Egil Asprem is Associate Professor of the History of Religions at the Department of Ethnology, History of Religions, and Gender Studies, Stockholm University. He is the author of The Problem of Disenchantment: Scientific Naturalism and Esoteric Discourse, 1900-1939 (Brill, 2014 / SUNY, 2018) and Arguing with Angels: Enochian Magic and Modern Occulture (SUNY, 2012), and the co-editor of Contemporary Esotericism (w/Kennet Granholm, Routledge, 2013) and the Handbook of Conspiracy Theory and Contemporary Religion (w/Asbjørn Dyrendal and David G. Robertson, Brill, 2018). He has published extensively on modern occultism, the history of Western learned magic, the relationship between science and esotericism, and theoretical and methodological issues in the study of religion and esotericism. Over the past few years, his work has focused on integrating the study of esotericism with the cognitive science of religion.

Julian Strube studied History and Religious Studies at the University of Heidelberg. Between 2009 and 2018, he spent time at the University of Amsterdam as both an exchange student and a temporary replacement for Marco Pasi. His research revolves around the relationship between religion and politics, specifically in the context of esotericism. He has previously worked on the relationship between esotericism and socialist, National Socialist, and völkisch contexts in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His M.A. thesis about the fictitious energy concept Vril and its turbulent political afterlife in relation to the “Black Sun” was published as a book in 2013. In 2016, he published his PhD dissertation about Socialism, Catholicism, and Occultism in Nineteenth-Century France: The Genealogy of the Writings of Eliphas Lévi with De Gruyter. His current DFG-funded project focuses on the role of Tantra in colonial Bengal, against the background of global debates about religion, science, and national identity.

Christine Ferguson is Professor in English Literature at the University of Stirling, where her research focuses on the entwined histories of the literary gothic and modern occultism. She recently led the AHRC research network Popular Occulture in Britain, 1875-1947, and co-edited (with Andrew Radford) the essay collection The Occult Imagination in Britain (Routledge 2018). Her new book project focuses on the popular fiction networks and periodical culture of the Victorian occult revival.

Peter J. Forshaw  is Associate Professor in History of Western Esotericism in the Early Modern Period. Peter graduated in Sanskrit, Tibetan and Indian Philosophy at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (1986), then worked in France, India, Thailand, and Japan, before returning to the UK to take an MA in Renaissance Studies (1998), followed by a PhD in Early Modern Intellectual History (2004) at Birkbeck, University of London. His doctorate was on the complex hieroglyphic and theosophical figures and the interplay of alchemy, magic and cabala in the  Amphitheatrum sapientiae aeternae – Amphitheatre of Eternal Wisdom (1595/1609) of Heinrich Khunrath of Leipzig (1560-1605). This was followed by postdoctoral fellowships researching the history of ritual magic, alchemy, and astrology at the universities of London, Strathclyde and Cambridge. Peter has been at HHP since 2009 and specialises in the intellectual and cultural history of learned magic and its relation to religion, science and medicine. He is editor-in-chief of Aries: Journal for the Study of Western Esotericism, editor of The Word and the World: Biblical Exegesis and Early Modern Science (2007) and Laus Platonici Philosophi: Marsilio Ficino and his Influence (2011) and is preparing a monograph, The Mage’s Images: Occult Theosophy in Heinrich Khunrath’s Early Modern Oratory and Laboratory, for Brill’s Studies in Intellectual History. He serves on the academic councils of SHAC (Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry) and ESSWE (European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism).