OUP announces “The Invention of Satanism”


Oxford University Press announces the upcoming publication of The Invention of Satanism by three leading scholars in the field: Asbjorn Dyrendal, James R. Lewis, and Jesper Aagaard Petersen. This book represents the first synthesis of scholarship on modern Satansim, and arrives just in time for Saturnalia, not to mention the 50th anniversary of Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan (in 2016).

The book will be an octavo (6×9) hardcover. Coming in at 272 pages with eight illustrations, its list price of $35 is a steal for an academic press title. The Invention of Satanism book arrives on November 27.

Invention of Satanism

According to the publisher’s website (US, UK):

Satanism is a complex and controversial phenomenon co-existing in many social and rhetorical contexts. Some consider it the root of all evil in the world. Others see it as a juvenile proxy for rebellion or as a misapplication of serious esoteric beliefs and practices. Then again, some consider it a specific religious or philosophical position serving as a personal and collective identity. This book, written by three experts in the field of Satanism studies, examines Satanism as a contemporary movement in continuous dialogue with popular culture, aiding as a breeding ground for other new religious movements.

Shifting the focus from mythology to meaning-making, this is a book about the invention of Satanism among self-declared religious Satanists. Like all ideologists and believers, Satanists incorporate, borrow, and modify elements from other traditions, and this book explores how traditional folklore and prior strands of occultism were synthesized by Anton LaVey in his founding of the Church of Satan and the creation of the Satanic Bible. Later chapters examine contemporary Satanist subcultures from various perspectives, also demonstrating how Satanism, despite its brief history as an organized phenomenon, continues to reinvent itself. There are now numerous Satanisms with distinctive interpretations of what being a Satanist entails, with some of these new versions deviating more from the historical “mainstream” than others. In this fascinating account of a seemingly abstruse and often-feared movement, Dyrendal, Lewis, and Petersen demonstrate that the invention of Satanism is an ongoing, ever-evolving process.

Here’s the table of contents:

Preface: Introducing Satanism
Chapter 1 – Anthropology of Evil: The Folklore of Satanism
Chapter 2 – Satanic Precursors
Chapter 3 – The Age of Satanism: Anton LaVey and the Church of Satan
Chapter 4 – The Satanic Bible
Chapter 5 – Reading Satanism through Demonology: The Satanism Scare
Chapter 6 – Adopting Satanic Identities
Chapter 7 – Little Nicky Grows Up?
Chapter 8 – Satanic Attitudes
Chapter 9 – Children of the Black Goat
Epilogue: Satanism in Play


Richard Kaczynski

Richard Kaczynski is the author of the biography Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley (2002; rev exp ed 2010), the history Forgotten Templars: The Untold Origins of Ordo Templi Orientis (2012), the novel The Billionth Monkey (2015), Panic in Detroit: The Magician and the Motor City (2019), along with a bunch of other books, articles, and chapters that you can read about at his website, www.richard-kaczynski.com.

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