Call for Papers

As the 5th centenary of the birth of Saint Teresa of Avila draws to a close, we will take the opportunity to reassess the influence of Iberian mysticism on global cultures over a two-day conference at the University of Manchester.

The history of Iberian mysticism can be read as the enduring conflict between dynamic and unconventional forms of spirituality and the controlling forces of centralized power. Within Spain, attention has been drawn to the influence of Judaism on the work of Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, both from Jewish converso backgrounds. Mysticism also impacted the overseas empires of the Iberian Peninsula, fusing together local beliefs with imported Catholic tradition, a fusion which still reverberates today in the prevailing spiritual and artistic practices of Latin America and the Lusophone world. This conference will explore how mysticism has transgressed theological orthodoxy and dogma to become a cultural force across disciplines, genres, and cultures and how it has served as an outlet for marginalized spiritual traditions and practices.

Indeed, the legacy of the mystical tradition has held traction not only across geographical spans but temporal ones; the mystic spirit reverberates through modern and contemporary art and literature.  Scholars of literature in the Americas in particular have looked to the theme of mysticism in understanding the works of uniquely American literary voices. Filmmakers have also experimented with cinematic representations of the mystical experience. Beyond the Spanish speaking world, Teresa’s life and writings have inspired the thinking of French feminists Simone de Beauvoir and Julia Kristeva.  In these diverse cultural forms the mystic tradition has survived into the twentieth century and beyond, at times in tension with the regime of limitations placed upon it by hegemonic forces, the law of orthodoxy and the practical restrictions of artistic form.

We welcome papers from researchers from all areas of the humanities, social sciences and fine arts which will inspire, challenge, and stretch our understanding of Iberian mysticism in a global context. We hope to attract papers and facilitate discussion on the following topics, though certainly we welcome other areas of inquiry:

Mysticism Across Space

  • Mysticism and Empire
  • Mysticism in the Americas
  • Mysticism in the Portuguese-speaking world
  • Iberian mysticism in Translation

Mysticism Across Time

  • The origins and influences of Iberian Mysticism
  • The cultural afterlives of the Iberian Mystics
  • The reception of Teresa of Avila’s writing
  • Iberian mysticism in art, literature, film, and television
  • New perspectives on Iberian mysticism
  • Francoist appropriations

Mysticism Across Cultures

  • Converso mystics
  • Mysticism and gender
  • Alumbradas, beatas and false mystics
  • Syncretic aspects of mysticism
  • Iberian mysticism in Translation

We invite proposals for 20-minute papers in English. Please send an abstract of no more than 250 words and a short bio to by December 14th, 2015.


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