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Mysticism Unit

Call for Proposals

(1) Mysticism and Humor: This session seeks proposals on the role of humor and comedy in any aspect of mystic practice, tradition, or experience
(2) Mysticism and Unruly Desire: This panel welcomes papers that explore the role of desire and its objects in mystical discourse and practice, with particular attention to desires that are not routinized or heteronormative. We particularly welcome papers that explore a contemporary perspective and/or use an empirical approach (for a possible co-sponsorship with the Religion and Sexuality Unit)
(3) Mysticism and Entheogens: Given the global "psychedelic renaissance" which is largely oriented around entheogens, this session seeks proposals on the role of entheogens with regard to the origins of not only religious/mystical experience, but also of religions as a whole (for a possible co-sponsorship with the Contemplative Studies Unit)
(4) Mysticism, Poverty, and Social Justice: Mystic traditions are often characterized by a dismissive attitude toward material wealth: spiritual concerns are taken to be superior, and possibly mutually exclusive, to material concerns. This session therefore seeks proposals that consider the implications of this disposition on the part of mystic traditions regarding poverty and inequality (for a possible co-sponsorship with the Contemplative Studies Unit)
(5) Aural & Visual Epistemologies in Mysticism: Mystic traditions often have much to say about the intellect, as either an essential tool or primary hindrance of mystic practice, but what of alternative epistemologies that privilege affect and the senses? This session requests submissions that examine non-intellective epistemologies and their role in mysticism (for a possible co-sponsorship with the Religion, Affect, and Emotion Unit and/or the African Diaspora Religions 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


  • Jason N. Blum, Davidson College
    1/1/2017 - 12/31/2022
  • Margarita Simon Guillory, Boston University
    1/1/2017 - 12/31/2022

Steering Committee Members




We do not accept proposals by email.

Review Process

Proposals are anonymous to chairs and steering committee members during review, but visible to chairs prior to final acceptance or rejection

Review Process Comments

We actually insist on anonymity and we do not accept email submissions for that reason.