CITY MAGIC: SAN FRAN & ESOTERICISM (RAHR-5503)
(09/07/2021-12/17/2021)

Course Memo

This seminar surveys the religious and artistic counter-cultures that flourished in the Bay Area in the late 1950's and throughout the 1960's, attempting to bring together historiographies of new religious movements (Goddess-worship, neo paganism) and esotericism (Esalen) with an investigation into the field of cultural production. This entails (re)reading the Beats (Snyder, Kerouac, Ginsberg) as continuing an American project of religious and spiritual experimentalism, and diagramming the explicitly esoteric dimensions of avant-garde poetics (Jack Spicer's "radio" poems, Robert Duncan's HD book), painting (Jess Collins's use of alchemy and the occult), and music (Harry Smith). Course Audience: PhD / MA, Auditors with permission. Oral presentations; final research paper. Due to COVID-19, this course will be held in a hybrid format online. [Auditors with faculty permission]