2017 University of Toronto Art Journal

The Wollesen Memorial Graduate Symposium is the annual symposium for the Graduate Union of the Students of Art (GUStA) at the University of Toronto. It was inaugurated in 2014 as an enduring legacy and fond tribute to our esteemed late colleague Dr. Jens T. Wollesen. Dr. Wollesen joined the Department of Art at the University of Toronto in 1985. He specialized in the art of medieval Italy, Cyprus, and the Mediterranean basin with a particular focus in the relationship between image and text. He is also remembered as a professor dedicated to his pedagogical calling. He was the director of both the undergraduate and graduate programs at various times, and also served on the Art Committee of the University of Toronto’s Victoria University. His dedication as a professor led him to design a first-year Introductory Art History course which was widely acknowledged by students as legendary. His dedication to both graduate and undergraduate education remains his legacy, for which the yearly success of this symposium is a testament. It is made possible by the continuing support of his friends and family through the Jens Wollesen Memorial Fund.

This year, GUStA continues the tribute with a symposium entitled “The Secret Arts and the Art of Secrets,” a forum that investigates the relationship between Art and Esotericism. Esoteric traditions have been universally excised from modernist perceptions of the world: the practice of astrology has been distanced from astronomy; alchemy has been distilled from chemistry; and magic has been calculated out of the equations of physics. The modern antipathy to Esotericism, however, has been tempered by exciting research over the past thirty years with increasingly more papers, periodicals, conferences, and academic programs that seek to rehabilitate, reveal, and interrogate the formative role that Esoteric traditions have had and continue to have on contemporary culture.

This symposium aims to participate in this movement by investigating Esotericism in the context of visual culture from Antiquity to the present. It seeks to provide a forum for scholars from a wide variety of fields who are interested in this engaging topic, but who may be finding it difficult to connect with other researchers on a subject that has only recently gained momentum within the general academic community.

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