Faculty of Humanities
University of Amsterdam

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Faculty of Humanities
University of Amsterdam

Research: Dell J. Rose

 Charles Augustus Tulk  and the role of Swedenborgianism in the reforming societies of 19th century Britain

For his PhD dissertation, Dell Rose is working on a project on Charles Augustus Tulk (1786-1849) and the role that Swedenborgianism played in the reforming societies of 19th century Britain. Though Tulk is often only known as the artistic patron of William Blake, he was also one of the earliest advocates of “public science.” He was elected in 1822 to the Royal Society for his own scientific work, and his quest to show the spiritual nature of the material world based on Swedenborg’s revelations would be widely acclaimed during the period.

The project is currently funded by the Swedenborg Society UK, and Dell is thrilled to be part of their scholarly legacy. In addition to his PhD work, Dell is currently researching the medical theory and physicalism of Franz von Baader (1765-1841). Baader was one of the most important thinkers of 19th century Germany and was instrumental in establishing academic interest in the theosophy of Jakob Böhme.

Dell has had a lifelong interest in Christian theosophy, and millenarianism and he currently has an article under review which deals with adaptation within the Southcottian movement. Dell is also interested in understanding the role that national mythologies have been influenced by Western esotericism, and he is conducting research on Willem Bilderdijk’s theological interpretation of the House of Orange, as well as esoteric currents in Germany during the Great War. Finally, Dell is interested in the inter-religious dialogue between Protestantism and Jewish sectarianism, most notably in Christian engagements with Sabbateanism as well as Karaism.


HHP Centre is part of the University of Amsterdam

Amsterdam School of Historical Studies (ASH)

As part of the University of Amsterdam, our research falls under the umbrella of the  Amsterdam School of Historical Studies (ASH) at the Faculty of Humanities.

Religious Dynamics and Cultural Diversity research group

As part of the Religious Studies unit the HHP centre participates in the interdisciplinary research group on Religious Dynamics and Cultural Diversity.


The presence in Amsterdam of the famous Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica, situated in the Embassy of the Free Mind, and of the rich material of the Amsterdam University Library’s Special Collections (Bijzondere Collecties) provides important research facilities for our staff. The HHP’s strong emphasis on historical research of primary sources is greatly advanced by these libraries and collections.

Journals, book series, and international activities​

The HHP centre is an intrinsic part of a larger international network that promotes, creates and distributes peer-reviewed academic research in the interdisciplinary field of Western esotericism.


The European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE) was founded in Amsterdam in 2005, the staff at the HHP centre continues to be deeply involved with the further development of this international learned society.

Book series

Our staff has also been instrumental in setting up and running the leading peer-reviewed journal devoted to Western esotericism, Aries, and the Aries Book Series – both published by Brill under the auspices of the ESSWE.

Current research projects & completed PhD dissertations at the HHP Centre


Current research projects at the HHP Centre

PhD dissertations

An overview of dissertations completed at the HHP centre.

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Towianism. Politics and Religion in Italian Romanticism

The research project investigates the diffusion of the religious doctrine of the Polish mystic Andrzej Towiański (1799-1878) in Italy and its reception by the Roman Catholic Church.

Inspired by a divine revelation that happened in 1828, Towiański elaborated a complex religious doctrine imbued with Judaic and Catholic heterodox elements, alongside Romantic and post-Enlightenment political and philosophical concepts.

In the first decades of the nineteenth century, the Polish mystic traveled all across Europe. He gathered disciples, especially in Vilnius, Saint Petersburg, Dresden, Paris, and Bruxelles. Nonetheless, he was usually persecuted by the political authority because he was identified as a political agitator promoting the Polish cause.

Towianism began to diffuse in Piedmont in 1848. Towiański’s disciples were predominantly Italian laymen and clergymen who advocated the unification of Italy and the renewal of the Catholic Church. After a few years, the ecclesiastical authority became suspicious of the phenomenon and started to investigate the Towianists.

Towiański was almost exclusively studied by Polish scholars because of his relations with Polish Romantic literature. Nonetheless, Towianism was a European phenomenon that found fertile ground in Italy and France.

Towiański’s disciples published the teachings of the Polish mystic and hagiographic volumes. Therefore, the studies conducted on Towianism were mostly based on the Towianist narrative, focusing on his exoteric nature instead of the esoteric one.

Through the study of unedited Towianist documentation scattered in several European cities, this research tries to describe an esoteric doctrine and its relations with the Roman Catholic Church amid the European revolutions.