Blogger W.J. Hanegraaff


Wouter J. Hanegraaff (1961) is Professor of History of Hermetic Philosophy and related currents at the University of Amsterdam. He studied music (classical guitar) at the Municipal Conservatory of Zwolle, and Cultural History at the University of Utrecht, where he specialized in the study of alternative spiritual movements during the twentieth century. From 1992 to 1996 he did his PhD research at the Department for Study of Religion of the University of Utrecht, where he defended his dissertation cum laude in 1995. After three years of postdoctoral research and a period spent in Paris, in 1999 he was appointed full professor at the University of Amsterdam, and director of the new center for History of Hermetic Philosophy and related currents. Since 2005 he is President of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (E.S.S.W.E.), and in 2006 he was elected member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences (K.N.A.W.). Since the mid-1990s, Hanegraaff has been active at the forefront of the academic study of Hermetic Philosophy and related currents, also known as “Western Esotericism”. His dissertation New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought (Brill 1996/State University of New York Press 1998) was the first study that placed contemporary “esoteric” religion in the broader context of Hermetic and related currents since the Renaissance, and is considered a standard work in the field. His monographic treatment and text edition Lodovico Lazzarelli (1447-1500): The Hermetic Writings and Related Documents (Medieval & Renaissance Texts & studies 2005, with R.M. Bouthoorn) is the most comprehensive study of a seminal but previously neglected Italian poet and religious philosopher, whose Crater Hermetis is among the most profound products of Renaissance Hermetism. In his recent monograph Esotericism and the Academy: Rejected Knowledge in Western Culture (Cambridge University Press 2012), Hanegraaff’s provides a history of how intellectuals and scholars since the fifteenth century have tried to come to terms with the religious, philosophical, and scientific traditions known by terms such as Hermeticism or Occult Philosophy. Hanegraaff is editor of seven collective volumes, including the 1200-page Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism (Brill 2005) and, most recently, a volume titled Hidden Intercourse: Eros and Sexuality in the History of Western Esotericism (Brill 2008 / Fordham University Press 2011, with J.J.Kripal). He is currently working on an introductory textbook Western Esotericism: A Guide for the Perplexed (Continuum Press, forthcoming 2012).