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Recent Publication of the Critical Edition of the Correspondence Between Fernando Pessoa and Aleister Crowley

October 31, 2019

Recent publication of the critical edition of the correspondence between Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa and English occultist Aleister Crowley

Mistério da Boca do Inferno

by kind permission of the publisher

Fernando Pessoa, O Mistério da Boca do Inferno, (edited by Steffen Dix), Tinta da China; Lisbon 2019, 520pp.
In Western esotericism of the 20th century, Aleister Crowley is an impressive figure who left his traces not only on different new religious movements, but also on pop music or modern literature. The Beatles put him on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band between the Hindu guru Sri Yukteswar Giri and the American actress Mae West, and he appealed also to many other musicians such as David Bowie or Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin, who was a huge fan and a collector of his art works. With some regularity, he appeared in modern literature, and one of the most famous and first examples is William Somerset Maugham’s “parapsychological” novel The Magician (1908).

The mysterious encounter between Aleister Crowley and the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa should be seen as a very intriguing episode in which reality and fiction were mingled. Read more…

Summer Break

June 30, 2019

We are on summer break.
Please check back in October for new posts.

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Study Day on Religion in Literature and Comic Books/Graphic Novels

May 5, 2019
Dear Colleagues,
We are delighted to inform you about a Study Day at Basel University, which will explore the relationship between media and religion by focussing on Religion in Literature and Comic Books/Graphic Novels. The Study Day will be held by the Basel-based religious studies scholar Jürgen Mohn and will bring together international scholars and students from various disciplines including comparative literature, religious studies and theology.

For more information on the event, click here.

Discussions with Deborah Feldman in Potsdam and Berlin

March 12, 2019

The Friedrich Nauman Foundation is organising two discussions with Deborah Feldman. The first event took place on Wednesday, March 6, in the city of Potsdam (Waschhaus, at 8 pm), the upcoming discussion will be today, March 12, in Berlin (Frannz Club, at 6 pm).

Deborah Feldman grew up as a member of the Hasidic Satmar Group in Williamsburg, New York. Her life was marked by strict rules, which had to be observed rigorously. Her first cautious attempts to break out of that world failed. She was forced into marrying a man she barely knew and soon afterwards gave birth to her child. Eventually, Feldman cut ties with her community to live first in Manhattan and later in New England. Today she is based in Berlin.

In her autobiographical narratives “Unorthodox” (2012) and “Überbitten” (2017) well received by German critics Deborah Feldman tells her story. In our discussion tonight, we will focus on passages from “Überbitten.“ Following her lecture, we will speak about identity in religion and literature. What does “identity“ mean? What are the links between personal story-telling, autobiographical writing and identity construction? Which challenges exist for an author in search of identity, when they want to escape a strictly religious community into an open society?
We kindly invite you to join our discussion! For more information please look at:!/Veranstaltung/GLI2U


Almut-Barbara Renger

Recent Publication on Religion and Literature by Bernhard Lang (Schöningh, 2018)

February 6, 2019

Bernhard Lang: Religion und Literatur in drei Jahrtausenden. Hundert Bücher (Schöningh, 2018)

In selecting one hundred works spanning three milennia across many cultures and epochs, Bernhard Lang investigates a broad variety of religious motifs as they have been communicated, reflected, and refracted in world literature. From the Mesopotamian Gilgamesh epic, the Tao Te Ching and Plato’s Apology to Hesse’s Siddharta, Broch’s Sleepwalkers, and Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being, this outstanding study furnishes an innovative and richly diverse overview of themes ranging from wisdom literature to the critique of religion, from sacred history and hagiography to theology and the history of religious thought.

The book’s format is well designed and clearly presented, providing excellent introductions to these major works. A concise account of each text’s contents is followed by a useful survey and analysis of the interpretative judgments that have been handed down through centuries of readers and critics. Quite judiciously, Bernhard Lang includes texts that are explicitly inimical to religion—for example, Nietzsche’s Zarathustra—alongside prominent theological essays and works on religious philosophical topics. All in all, the reader is presented with a fascinating panorama of the world’s long history of religion in all its varieties through a decidedly literary lens—an altogether important collection that is sure to make a significant contribution to the study of religion and literature.

Workshop with Itō Hiromi About Her Life and Writing at Freie Universität Berlin

January 13, 2019

Language – Gender – Transmigration
A Workshop with Itō Hiromi about her life and writing at Freie Universität Berlin

The poet, prose author, and essayist Itō Hiromi is one of the most prominent and innovative literary authors in contemporary Japan. Her prize-winning narrative texts defy conventional categories of genre, oscillating between the epic and the lyrical, the autobiographical and the mythical, while constantly drawing on a wide range of classical and contemporary materials. Dividing her time between California and Japan (in particular Kumamoto and Tokyo, where she presently teaches Creative Writing at Waseda University), she brings a transnational perspective to Japanese literature. She writes with a unique humor, seriousness, and urgency about a range of topics from the commonplace to issues of life and death. This workshop will offer inroads into her multi-faceted oeuvre, discuss its impact in Japan and beyond, and provide an opportunity to directly experience the poetic power and persuasiveness of her artistry.


Irmela Hijiya-Kirschnereit: Welcome and Introduction
14.00 – 14.45
Noriko Hiraishi, Tsukuba Univ.: Itō Hiromi as an eye-opener: Shōjo manga and classical literature
14.45 – 15.30
Niels Bader, FU Berlin : “The Daughter as Bodhisattva? Itō Hiromi’s Explanation of the Heart Sūtra between Languages and Genres”
15.30 – 16.00
Coffee Break
Jeffrey Angles, Michigan Western Univ.: Trauma(tic) Translation: On Translating Itō Hiromi
16.45 – 17.45
Itō Hiromi: Reading and Talk

Moderation: Irmela Hijiya-Kirschnereit
Questions by Yvonne Kröll, Sven Schelhas, Marina Staack

17.45 – 18. 30 General Discussion, Audience Q & A

Time: Friday, Feb 1, 2019 , 13.30-18.30 h
Place: Freie Universität, “Holzlaube”, Fabeckstr. 23-25, Rm. 2.2051

Participation is free, but registration is requested by Jan. 25 with Prof. Dr. Irmela Hijiya-Kirschnereit (, Professor of Japanese Literature and Cultural History, Institute of East Asian Studies, Japanese Studies, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

Program in Religion, Literature, and Visual Culture at the University of Chicago

December 28, 2018
Dear Students,
We‘d like to draw your attention to a well established program at the University of Chicago — „Religion, Literature, and Visual Culture“ — which studies the interactions of the religions with cultural forms and practices, with particular reference to art. The Divinity School’s program pursues this study utilizing the tools of poetics, aesthetics, and theories of interpretation to understand both the ways that the religions harness the human imagination, and the ways that the human recourse to imaginative expression often — some would say always — engages religion. For more information click here. You may also check out the courses offered by visiting the Divinity School website here.

Your HolyLit Team