Next Meetings:

March 8th, 2023: Michael Noble: Reflections on research on the Islamic occult as a window into cosmology and the hard problem of consciousness.


March 15th, 2023: Marion Gibson and Tabitha Stanmore Book Launch, including:

Love Spells and Lost Treasure, Tabitha Stanmore

Previous Meetings:

February 21, 2018: Inaugural Meeting

March 28, 2018: Dr. Emily Selove, “A Medieval Arabic Handbook of Magic”

May 30, 2018: Professor Marion Gibson: “Rediscovering Renaissance Witchcraft”

October 10, 2018: Barbara Dunn: “The Astrologer and the Physician”

November 14, 2018: Professor Nick Groom: “The Vampire: A New History”

January 16, 2019: Anna Milon: “The Temptation of Margaret Murray”

February 15, 2019: Howard Gayton: How does one place personal experience and epistemologies within the academic study of magic?

March 6, 2019: Dr. Bryan Brown and Olya Petrakova-Brown: MakeTank and methodologies of the drama department applied to the study of magic.

October 10, 2019: Dr. Earl Fontainelle, ‘Latin as Diabolical Vox Magica in Horror Cinema’

November 7th, 2019: Dorka Tamás, ‘Sylvia Plath and the Supernatural: Witches and Magic in Plath’s Poetry and Fiction’

December 5th, 2019: Professor Brian Rappert, “A Performance of Dissimulation: The Magic of Deception in Social and Political Life”

January 22, 2020: Samuel Gillis Hogan, “Stars in the Hand: British Latin Medieval Chiromancy and its Scholastic and Astrological Influences”

March 18, 2020: Anna Milon, “The Wildest God: Margaret Murray’s influence on interpretations of the ‘Sorcerer’ cave image.”

April 3rd, 2020: Dr. Emily Selove, “Siraj al-Din al-Sakkaki’s Dangerous Books”

May 27th, 2020: Sarah Scaife, “Visions as practise in practice-based research.”

October 14, 2020: Professor Brian Rappert, “(In)Authentic Selves: How Magicians Craft Truth and Deception in Autobiographies”

November 17th, 2020: Anna Milon and Crystal Hollis, “Popular Magic: Then and Now” : register here:

December 18, 2020: Michelle Szydlowski leads a conversation about the use and symbolic significance of animals in magic and beyond.

February 3, 2021: Dr. Luca Patrizi, “Hydromancy in the Ancient, Late Antique, and Medieval Islamic world”

March 3, 3021: Terri Windling: “The Modern Fairies Project”

October 27th, 2021:Dr. Kara Reilly: A Medium to History: The Lyric Theatre as a Hauntological Site

Nov 29th-30th, 2021: Medicine, Magic and Healing: a workshop organised by Professor Nahyan Fancy:

February 2nd, 2022: Howard Gayton, “Listening to the Land: Pilgrimage to COP26.”

February 23, 2022: Professors Catherine Rider and Dionisius Agius:  ‘Popular Healing: Christian and Islamic Medical Practices and the Roman Inquisition in Early Modern Malta’

March 24th, 2022: Samuel Gillis Hogan: “Fairies in Summoning Spells and Occult Philosophy, 1400-1700: The Articulation of a Learned Christian Animism at the Cusp of Modernity”

April 27, 2022: Sarah Scaife, Show not tell: ‘La Medicina Incerta

September 28, 2022: Professor Tim Insoll: The ‘Magical’ Properties of Shrines and Figurines in Northern Ghana 

The application of the term ‘magic’ to the study of West African archaeological and ethnographic material can be problematic in evoking grand evolutionary narratives, within which these materials were often categorized at the bottom of such schema, and essentialized as the ‘primitive other’. Yet, has the interpretive and descriptive potential of ‘magic’ altered and, like the use of ‘magical’ in African contexts now become more acceptable. This will be explored in relation to archaeological and ethnographic research completed on Tallensi shrines, substances, and medicine in the Tong Hills, and on archaeological figurines from Komaland, both in northern Ghana. It will be argued that ‘magic’ may have value if considered as part of a ‘bundle’ of phenomena rather than a unique descriptor.

October 19, 2022, co-hosted with the University of Exeter’s Center for Early Modern Studies

 Frank Klaassen (University of Saskatchewan), ‘Encomium nigromantici: A Reconsideration of Conventional Histories of Western Magic’. Frank is a specialist in this history of medieval and early modern magical texts and will be talking about how they fit into wider histories of western magic.

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