Tag Archives: magic

CFP: Living in a Magical World: Inner Lives, 1300–1900, St Anne’s College, Oxford, 17–19 September 2018

conference_cfp_5Call for Papers: Living in a Magical World: Inner Lives, 1300–1900, St Anne’s College, Oxford, 17–19 September 2018
Deadline: Friday 12 January 2018

Historians have learned to regard the supernatural as integral to past lives. No longer are magical and occult beliefs anachronistically condescended to as mere ‘superstitions’, entertained only by a credulous minority and for the most part ancillary to temporal existence. Instead, the near-constant presence of unseen yet powerful forces – both benevolent and malign, and across domestic, communal, and cosmic environments – now seems central to a subtle and pervasive worldview held by sane, intelligent people whose outlook on the universe was no less sophisticated or coherent than our own. At the same time, supernatural beliefs were unstable, inconsistent, and contested.

Taking this insight as its starting point, this conference will explore the meanings, practices, and everyday consequences of living in a magical world, with special reference to its complex relationship to the inner lives of our forebears, from the late medieval to the modern period. We invite papers from all geographical contexts and disciplinary perspectives, and from researchers at all stages of their careers, that relate the history of magic, witchcraft, ghosts, and other supernatural phenomena to the following themes and research questions:

  • The history of selfhood, personal identity, phenomenology, and subjectivity;
  • The history of the emotions, and the significance of feeling states – insofar as we can ever recover them – for understanding and appreciating past experiences and interiorities;
  • And the extent to which interactions with occult realms and unseen worlds – which often engendered powerful feelings of anger, terror, and grief, but also of wonder, hope, and security – are privileged sites for understanding past emotional repertoires and experiences and, in turn, inner lives.

We hope that the assembled papers will shed new light on the role of the supernatural encounter in shaping the textures and meanings of lived experience over an unprecedentedly wide variety of time periods, national boundaries, and spatial and perceptual dimensions (from courtrooms, households, and urban and rural landscapes to dreamscapes, memory, and fantasy). Publication of an edited collection and/or journal special issue featuring a selection of the papers will be considered, while the conference will also incorporate a drinks reception at and private view of the project’s associated exhibition on the history of witchcraft and magic at the Ashmolean Museum. Provisionally entitled Spellbound: Thinking Magically, Past and Present, this will show from 6 September 2018 to 6 January 2019.

To propose a twenty-minute paper, please send a title and abstract of no more than 300 words, together with a short academic CV, to james.r.brown@uea.ac.uk by Friday 12 January 2018. Please also direct any queries to James in the first instance.

Workshop for MA and PhD students on Medieval Magic for MA & PhD students (7 July 2016)

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 11.41.14 AMThe Warburg Institute and The European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE) have organised a free Workshop for MA and PhD students on Medieval Magic. The workshop will take place on July 7 at the Warburg Institute in London, and will focus on the topic of “Magical Traditions and Medieval Religions of the Book”. Please see the programme below for details.

The keynote paper will be given by Prof. Jean-Patrice Boudet (Orléans) and the workshop will include ‎sessions on PhD and Early Career Advice and a Laboratory with period and regional focus groups led by speakers, chairs and ESSWE board members.

Please note that this is a free event with a limited number of places. To book a place, please contact the organizer, Dr. Sophie Page: sophie.page@ucl.ac.uk

10:00-10:30 Workshop registration and coffee

10:30-10:40 Welcome by ESSWE president Andreas Kilcher

1) Oratory: Presentations by guest speakers (10:40—14.40) Chair: Yuri Stoyanov (SOAS)

10:40-11:20 Siam Bhayro ‎(Exeter): ‘Jewish Aramaic magic bowls from late antique Mesopotamia: No longer on the margins’‎

11:20-12.00 Liana Saif (Oxford): ‘At the Margins ‎of Orthodoxy: Magic in Medieval Islam’‎

12.00-12:40 Adelina Angusheva-Tihanov (Manchester) ‘Slavic amulet books and Greek Orthodoxy’ with a ‎response from Will Ryan (retired professor of Russian magic, Warburg Institute).‎‎

‎12:40-13:40 Lunch Break (as this is a free event, lunch is not provided)

‎13:40-14:40 ‎Jean-Patrice Boudet (Orléans), ‘Magical Traditions and Medieval Religions of the Book:

Common Topics and ‎Mutual Influences’. Chair: Charles Burnett (Warburg Institute)

2) Round table discussion (14:40-15:30) Chair: Sophie Page (UCL)

‎15:30-16:00 ‎Coffee Break

3) PhD and Early Career Advice (16:00-16.30)

Two simultaneous sessions:

1. Early Career Advice for PhD students. Led by Egil Asprem (Norwegian University of Science and Technology) and Liana Saif (Oxford)

2. PhD advice for MA students (ESSWE board members and guest speakers)

4) Laboratory: Discussion in period and regional focus groups (16:30-17:30)

With the following scholars, in addition to the speakers and chairs: Andreas Kilcher, Mark Sedgwick,

Peter J. Forshaw, Jean-Pierre Brach, Birgit Menzel, ‎Bernd-Christian Otto and Gyorgy E. Szonyi.

17:30 Wine reception

Magic and Magicians in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Age (The University of Arizona, Tucson April 28 – May 1, 2016)

df516222e12a072ca5ced4a7862d3668[1]2016: 13th International Symposium on Medieval and Early Modern Studies, University of Arizona

Organizer and Chair: Dr. Albrecht Classen
University Distinguished Professor
Dept. of German Studies, 301 LSB, The University of Arizona
520 621-1395; aclassen@u.arizona.edu; aclassen.faculty.arizona.edu

Magic and the magician are two critically important aspects of cultural epistemology, challenging and contributing to the world of science, undermining it at the same time. Who was the magician, what did s/he do, how did s/he operate, how did society view him/her, and what does the topic addressed here mean for our own world in reflection upon the past?

This is a self-sustaining academic symposium. Participants are expected to secure travel funds and other resources to cover their costs (housing, registration) from their home institution.

Registration: $90. This will not only cover the conference, but also provide you with a free copy of the subsequent volume, for which I will do intensive research together with all contributors.

Selected papers will be accepted for publication in a planned volume (de Gruyter; see my webpage on Fundamentals, under “Middle Ages,” right hand side navigation bar). Each contributor to the volume will receive a free copy and can negotiate with the publisher reduced prices for any of the volumes in our series.

For anyone interested in joining the symposium as part of the audience, please contact the organizer. Student participation will be most welcome.

Languages accepted at the symposium: English, French, German, and in exceptional cases Spanish. Non-English papers must be accompanied by a good English summary available as a hand-out. Abstracts of all papers will be posted well ahead of the symposium.

Hotel Accommodations: A special arrangement has been made with Riverpark Inn,  $72/night (plus tax [12.05%] plus $2 per night). Price subject to change. Within the USA, call: 1-800 551-1466, refer to “Dept. of German Studies/Magic and the Magician in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Time,” or to my name (Classen).  Local number: 520 239-2300. Transportation to and from the symposium (at the University of Arizona), will be provided by means of the new streetcar ($4./day).  For international guests, please fax your reservations to: 011- 520-239-2329.

Deadline for submission of abstracts: January 31, 2016, but feel free to send an inquiry even after that date, to aclassen@u.arizona.edu

Call For Chapters – The Material Culture of Magic


 Medieval woodcut by Ulrich Molitor (1493)

Medieval woodcut by Ulrich Molitor (1493)

Book project, ed. by Dr Antje Bosselmann-Ruickbie and Dr Leo Ruickbie

Magic is a wide field of research comprising what we might call the occult, paranormal events, anomalous experience, spirituality and other phenomena throughout human history. However, research has often been focused more narrowly on the historical analysis of written sources, or the anthropology and occasionally sociology of practitioners and their communities, for example. What is often overlooked are the physical artefacts of magic themselves. 
In all areas of research, ‘material culture’ is becoming increasingly important – the ‘material turn’ as it has been labelled. This is particularly the case for disciplines that traditionally have not focused on object studies but on theory such as historical or social sciences. However, it is self-evident that the objects emerging from a culture provide valuable information on societies and their history. This is also and particularly the case for magic and related phenomena. Magic, especially, became divorced from its concrete expressions as academic study focused on problems of rationality and functionalist explanation.
When studying magic it is crucial to look at the objects that have been produced and what purpose they had, who made them and in what period, whether they represent only a certain historical period or are a long-lasting phenomenon, etc. This volume hence aims to ‘re-materialise’ magic, to re-anchor it in the physical things that constitute ‘magic’ and recover the social lives, even biographies, of these things.
The envisaged academic book aims to cover a wide range of subjects, periods, geographical areas, as well as methods: firstly, because an interdisciplinary approach is essential to adequately encompass the subject; secondly, to investigate whether similar objects were used in different cultures in parallel or over a long period; and thirdly, to serve as a starting point for future research. This will be the first book on the material culture of magic and consequently has the potential to become a foundational text.
Therefore, we invite contributors from different disciplines such as anthropology, archaeology, art history, ethnology, folklore, parapsychology, religious studies, sociology and others. Subjects could be, for example, case studies focusing on particular objects, museum collections, or mass market items labelled as magical; analysis of classes of embodied magical functions, such as charms, amulets, talismans, magical jewellery, icons, relics, poppets (Voodoo dolls), etc.; consideration of classes of materials, such as bone, wood, metal, precious and semi-precious stones, etc. In addition, it is important to understand people-object relations, spatial-temporal aspects of magical objects, the dialectics of transference (projection and introjection), the role of narratives and social performance, cultural trajectories, and the processes of commodification and fetishisation (reification). These can be addressed in a variety of contexts from traditional religion to popular culture, and historically situated anywhere from prehistory to the present day.
Any physical representation of magical ideation or anything imbued with supernatural meanings by its creator, such as found objects, animal/human parts, and man-made artefacts, can be considered in this context. What matters is a central focus on the physicality of the magical object; its material existence.
The volume will present an overview of current research in this field. It will comprise approximately 20 of the best and most relevant contributions on this subject. Contributors will be asked to submit a finished chapter of around 6,000 words (inc. references) with publication planned for 2015.
In the first instance, an abstract of no more than 300 words should be sent, together with a brief biography, to the editors before 1 August 2014 at Bosselmann-Ruickbie@uni-mainz.de. We are also happy to answer any questions.

Dr Antje Bosselmann-Ruickbie is a lecturer in the Department for Christian Archaeology and Byzantine Art History, Institute for Art History and Musicology, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany.
Dr Leo Ruickbie is the published author of several books, as well as the editor of the Paranormal Review, the magazine of the Society for Psychical Research, and a Committee Member of the Gesellschaft für Anomalistik (Society for Anomalistics).

Call For Papers: Magic, Religion, Science

Call For Papers: Magic | Religion | Science
Indiana University, Bloomington. March 7-8, 2014
Deadline: 10 January 2014

26th Annual Indiana University Medieval Studies Symposium

question-3109789In his famous work, The Golden Bough, James Frazer proposed that human societies evolved from cultures dependent on magic to ones subject to religion and finally to ones guided by science. Scholarship since Frazer has worked to destabilize and expand upon this tidy theory, pointing out that the distinctions between these three categories of belief are not always clear and that, in fact, all three tend to exist simultaneously within the same societies, schools, and even individuals. Nonetheless, Frazer’s division of belief into magical, religious, and scientific modes of thought provides a useful lens for examining the ways that truth can be legitimated, and offers us a clear heuristic paradigm for exploration into human thought and behavior throughout history. Asking questions about magic, religion, and science offers us avenues into different epistemes and windows into the habitus of a group or society.

It is particularly useful for exploring the Middle Ages, which presents a wealth of examples in which the boundaries between magic, religion, and science are blurred, re-drawn, or entirely confounded. Indeed, the designation “medieval” across cultures often signifies a perceived interim period, between classical and modern thinking, in which multiple paradigms–magic and superstition, the hegemony of religion, and scientific exploration–coexist and compete for dominance. Investigating magic, religion, and science further within the context of the Middle Ages helps us not only to understand medieval thinking and culture more accurately and to see how the boundaries of magic, religion, and science were policed at the time, but to disturb modern assumptions about the operation of knowledge in these time periods.

Questions may include (but are not limited to):
– What role did “magical” items/practices (such as amulets, oaths, and curses) play in medieval life, and on what principles were they thought to operate? How, if at all, were they distinguished from religious or scientific practices?
– How does the examination of epistemology help undermine or reinforce distinctions between elite and popular culture?
– How (and how effectively) did medieval religious authorities police the boundaries of religious thought?
– What pursuits were seen as “science” and what distinguished them from other forms of inquiry?
– How did knowledge, obtained through magic, religion, science, or any combination of the three, affect life in the Middle Ages?
– How is scientia used and defined in the Middle Ages, considering that the modern word “science” in modern parlance often denotes an exit from the medieval world and into the Renaissance?
– How do epistemologies vary between genres? For example, how do the views of a culture’s technical texts vary from its literary texts?

Please submit 300-word abstracts to Diane Fruchtman (dsfrucht@indiana.edu) by 10 January, 2013.