PAPERS Resources

AAR Annual Meeting
Denver, CO
November 17-20, 2018

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Program Book (PDF)
Annual Meeting Venue Floorplans (PDF)
Annual Meeting Exhibit Hall (PDF)
Program Book Advertisements (PDF)

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Mysticism Unit

Statement of Purpose: 

This Unit began as a Consultation within the AAR in 1987 and achieved formal Unit status in 1989. While its early focus was primarily Christianity and Western religions — and the study of experience and textual interpretation within those areas — the Unit has grown and changed over time, paralleling the change and growth in the AAR itself. Today, our conversations cut across boundaries that characterize many of the Program Units within the AAR — boundaries of discipline, tradition, temporality, and region. Members of our Unit use different methodologies and work across a variety of disciplines, among which are the psychology of religion, sociology of religion, history of religions, hermeneutics and textual analysis, biographical analysis, feminist studies, film studies, philosophy of religion, mysticism and science, art criticism, postmodern theory, cultural studies, and anthropology of consciousness, among others. This interdisciplinarity has importance not only to our work as scholars, but also to our work as teachers and public educators. We post our current call, past sessions, a selection of past papers, as well as links in the field of mysticism to our Facebook page at

Call for Papers: 

The Mysticism Unit invites proposals on the following topics:

• Intersections of Mysticism, Politics, and Violence
In what ways have mystic traditions been associated with violence and politics, or in what ways has political violence appropriated mystic practices, ideologies, or vocabularies?

• Crazy Wisdom
Papers that address connections between mysticism and crazy wisdom/divine madness, or those that discuss Chögyam Trungpa specifically or Tibetan Buddhism more broadly are welcome.

• Mysticism, Lineage, and Ritual Transmission
We are interested in projects that explore the transmission and configuration of mystical power or religious energies. This includes both traditional means and contemporary methods that might use new technologies and social media (for example, initiation rituals performed over Skype). For co-sponsorship with the Mysticism Unit, the Ritual Studies Unit, and the Religion, Media, and Culture Unit.

• Teaching Mysticism
How do we professors go about teaching courses on mysticism? What particular challenges or opportunities present themselves with regard to mysticism as a pedagogical topic? Co-sponsorship with the Mysticism Unit and the Teaching Religion Unit.

• Mysticism in Religions of the African Diaspora
How well does the term mysticism apply to the religions of the African diaspora? How has mysticism functioned in these traditions? Co-sponsorship with the African Diaspora Religions Unit and the Mysticism Unit.

• Mystic Biographies and Autobiographies
To what degree have mystics’ experiences and the narratives of their lives been intertwined, and how have those influences operated?

We do NOT accept proposals by email.
Proposals are anonymous to chairs and steering committee members during review, but visible to chairs prior to final acceptance or rejection
We actually insist on anonymity and we do not accept email submissions for that reason.
ChairSteering Committee