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Period/Nation Research Area
Aren Roukema is a sessional lecturer and postdoctoral researcher, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. He brings together methods and perspectives from literary criticism, cultural studies, history, and religious studies to analyze relationships between narrative and religion in secular/post-secular societies. He is particularly interested in stories, symbols, and tropes developed within cultural and intellectual spaces made marginal by their relationship with institutional science and religion. He assesses the representation in popular culture of heterodox religions and sciences like Theosophy and parapsychology, analyzing their transmission over time and across cultures through the reiteration of the tropes, plot scenarios, and discursive mechanisms of genres like science fiction and the gothic. His current research project examines the encoding of racisms and racial hierarchies in this transmission. He focuses primarily on the Anglosphere and works mostly with nineteenth-century texts and currents, but his cultural historical approach frequently takes him into more contemporary periods.
Aren holds a PhD in literature and cultural studies from Birkbeck, University of London, and an MA in religious studies from the University of Amsterdam. He has previously completed postdoctoral research at Birkbeck, funded by the Wellcome Trust. His monograph, Esotericism and Narrative: The Occult Fiction of Charles Williams (Brill, 2018), analyzes the reciprocal impact of heterodox currents including alchemy, kabbalah, and ritual magic on both genre fiction and modern religious experience. He has published in the Journal of Literature and Science, Science Fiction Studies, and Journal of Inklings Studies, and in edited volumes including The Occult Imagination in Britain: 1875–1947 (Ferguson and Radford eds, Routledge, 2018) and Heresy and Borders in the Twentieth Century (Jakubowicz and Dickens eds, Routledge, 2018). Aren is Editor of Correspondences: Journal for the Study of Esotericism.
- “Testimony, Fiction, and the Science of the Mind: Occult Empiricism and A.P. Sinnett’s Karma: A Novel.” Journal of Literature and Science 1 (2023).
- “Spirit Astronauts and the Mediumistic Mind: Spiritualism and Science Fiction.” In Religious Futurisms, edited by Sumeyra Buran Utku and Jim Clarke (Manchester UP, 2023).
- “The Esoteric Roots of Science Fiction: Edward Bulwer-Lytton, H.G. Wells, and the Occlusion of Magic.” Science Fiction Studies2 (July 2021): 218–42.
- “Christian Occultism: Charles Williams and the Erosion of Heresy.” In Heresy and Borders in the Twentieth Century, edited by Karina Jakubowicz and Robert Dickens, 47–65 (Routledge, 2021).
- Esotericism and Narrative: The Occult Fiction of Charles Williams (Boston and Leiden: Brill, 2018).
- “Naturalists in Ghost Land: Victorian Occultism and Science Fiction.” In The Occult Imagination in Britain: 1875–1947, edited by Christine Ferguson and Andrew Radford, 183–205 (Routledge, 2018).
- “A Veil that Reveals: Charles Williams in the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross.” Journal of Inklings Studies1 (April 2015): 22–71.
- “The Shadow of Anodos: Alchemical Symbolism in Phantastes.” North Wind: A Journal for George MacDonald Studies 31 (2012): 48–63.