Between Light and Darkness – International Symposium on Fin-de-siècle

Call for Papers

The symposium Between Light and Darkness will take place December 9th and 10th 2010 at the Ateneum Art Museum – Finnish National Gallery in Helsinki, Finland.

The focus of the symposium is on religion, mysticism, and subjectivity in Symbolist art and theory, and on the fin-de-siécle relationship between art and science, considering also the ways in which the Symbolist influence has continued after the fin-de- siécle period. The purpose is to bring together scholars studying Symbolism and related subjects and to shed new light on the interconnectedness of esoteric thought and the discourses of Modernity.

Between Light and Darkness is organized as collaboration by the Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki, the Department of Art History at the University of Helsinki, and the Ateneum Art Museum – Finnish National Gallery, which hosts an important collection of Symbolist art mainly by Finnish artists, such as Magnus Enckell, Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Hugo Simberg, and Ellen Thesleff. The symposium is supported by the Finnish Cultural Foundation.

The symposium wishes to pay tribute to the Finnish art historian Salme Sarajas-Korte who was among the first researchers to initiate a discussion on the relations between artistic and mystical discourses. Her doctoral dissertation on Symbolist art, published in 1966, for which she did extensive archival work at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, is still unparalleled in its understanding of the interconnectedness of Symbolist art with the broader cultural field of literature, philosophy, religion, and mysticism.

Professor Lynn L. Sharp of Whitman College, author of the 2006 book Secular Spirituality: Reincarnation and Spiritism in Nineteenth-Century France, has been confirmed as a keynote speaker. Further information about speakers, sessions, and the program will be announced later on the symposium web page

The organizers of the symposium invite paper proposals from scholars of art history, literature, music, cultural history, religion, etc. The presentations may cover any topic relating to the theme of the symposium. Presenters are asked to prepare a 20 minute talk and allow 10 minutes for discussion.

Those interested in presenting a paper at the symposium should send an abstract in English (max. 400 words) to Marja Lahelma ( by September 15, 2010.