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The Mysticism Group of the

American Academy of Religion

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This Group takes a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary approach to the study of religious experience. We welcome individual paper, panel and roundtable proposals on any topic in the study of mysticism, including papers on methodological approaches to the study of mysticism.

Call for Papers:


Mysticism, Social Justice and Political Activism

Mysticism and the Arts

Defining Mysticism: The issue of definitions – both their content and their utility – has resurfaced as a topic of debate in religious studies, and the phenomena embraced by the rubric “mysticism” present an especially intriguing opportunity for this kind of categorical reflection. We invite papers that consider the question of how “mysticism” has and should be defined, and what the role of a definition of mysticism should be. Papers might propose definitions of mysticism, reflect on past and present engagements with that question, or consider the role of definition itself with regard to mysticism. For a possible co-sponsorship with the Cultural History of the Study of Religion Unit.

Bodies and Boundaries: The Body as breaking/testing/pushing boundaries in Mysticism and Asceticism. For a possible co-sponsorship with the Body and Religion Unit.

Mysticism and the Self: we invite proposals that explore how mysticism constructs and deconstructs models of the self and subjectivity. Papers might consider how individual mystic thinkers or traditions have conceptualized the self, what mystical experiences suggest about how the self should be understood, or what philosophical or psychological implications mysticism might present for our understanding of subjectivity. For a possible cosponsor with Psychology, Culture and Religion Unit.

Mysticism and the Feminine: we are interested in papers on the broad topic of "Mysticism and the Feminine." Such papers could include analyses of the regulation and resistance of female and female-identified mystics, the feminization of certain mystical states, the category of the symbolic feminine in mystical approaches, female divinity, and/or mysticism and the "monstrous feminine." For a possible co-sponsor with Women and Religion Unit.


We do NOT accept proposals by email, only through the AAR's online paper and session proposal system:



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.

Chair Steering Committee