Enchanted Modernities

Theosophy, Modernism and the arts, c. 1865-1960

Enchanted Modernities

The Enchanted Modernities Network brings together scholars who are experts on the visual arts, music, sound and literature from all over the world, the Network's events explore what the visual, material and performing arts can tell us about the relationships between Theosophy, modernity and mysticism c. 1875-1960. The research carried out by the Network’s partners examines where and how artists, writers and performers came into contact with Theosophy and other mystical practices, and how Theosophical ideas, especially those of key figures in the Society in this period, such as Helena Blavatsky and Annie Besant, were given material, visual and audible form and shape.

Founded in 1875 in New York, the Theosophical Society quickly went global, attracting a cosmopolitan community of adherents worldwide. Often treated as a footnote in modern cultural history, there has been very little research about why this esoteric organisation was so popular with artists, musicians and writers in this period and, furthermore, what impact it had on their artistic endeavours. The purpose of this international and interdisciplinary network is to bring together scholars working on the interconnections between mysticism and modernism across the arts.

A three year Leverhulme Trust International Network Grant of £124,000 awarded in November 2012 has been the main source of funding for the Network’s events to-date.

The project is delivering a range of internationally-significant outcomes including:

Events Archive


Inaugural Conference: Enchanted Modernities: Theosophy and the arts in the modern world University of Amsterdam 25 - 27 September 2013

Symposium: Exploring Theosophy's Influence on Visual Art and Music, Harrison Museum, Utah State University, 27 April 2014

2nd Conference: Theosophy and the Arts: Texts and Contexts of Modern Enchantment Columbia University, New York, 9-10 October 2015


Pioneering Spirit:Maud MacCarthy - Mysticism, Music and Modernity Logo, Exhibition

Enchanted Modernities:Mysticism, Landscape and the American West, Exhibition

CONTACT: The Network Facilitator, Dr. Katie J. T. Herrington, Department of History of Art University of York, Heslington, York, YO10 5DD (enchantedmodernities@york.ac.uk)