Charis Books and More Logo

A Cultural History of the Soul: Europe and North America from 1870 to the Present (Paperback)

A Cultural History of the Soul: Europe and North America from 1870 to the Present By Kocku Von Stuckrad Cover Image
Usually Ships in 1-5 Days


The soul, which dominated many intellectual debates at the beginning of the twentieth century, has virtually disappeared from the sciences and the humanities. Yet it is everywhere in popular culture--from holistic therapies and new spiritual practices to literature and film to ecological and political ideologies. Ignored by scholars, it is hiding in plain sight in a plethora of religious, psychological, environmental, and scientific movements.

This book uncovers the history of the concept of the soul in twentieth-century Europe and North America. Beginning in fin de si cle Germany, Kocku von Stuckrad examines a fascination spanning philosophy, the sciences, the arts, and the study of religion, as well as occultism and spiritualism, against the backdrop of the emergence of experimental psychology. He then explores how and why the United States witnessed a flowering of ideas about the soul in popular culture and spirituality in the latter half of the century.

Von Stuckrad examines an astonishingly wide range of figures and movements--ranging from Ernest Renan, Martin Buber, and Carl Gustav Jung to the Esalen Institute, deep ecology, and revivals of shamanism, animism, and paganism to Rachel Carson, Ursula K. Le Guin, and the Harry Potter franchise. Revealing how the soul remains central to a culture that is only seemingly secular, this book casts new light on the place of spirituality, religion, and metaphysics in Europe and North America today.

About the Author

Kocku von Stuckrad is professor of religious studies at the University of Groningen. He is the author of several books, including Western Esotericism: A Brief History of Secret Knowledge (2005) and The Scientification of Religion: A Historical Study of Discursive Change, 1800-2000 (2014).

Product Details
ISBN: 9780231200370
ISBN-10: 0231200374
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication Date: February 15th, 2022
Pages: 368
Language: English