Tutor: Sophie Weeks
Module type: MA Option
Module Code: HIS00059M
This course will explore the close interplay between magic, science and religion: some of the major conceptual frameworks of early modern Europe.
Reading the works of significant early modern thinkers (including Bacon, Bruno, Dee, Newton and Paracelsus), we will analyse the assumptions underlying different views of the world and the broader reasons why thinkers adopted one set of assumptions or another in particular historical contexts. The relationship between these intellectual frameworks is complicated and diverse.
We will explore the interaction between magical and religious discourse; 'occult' and 'scientific' forms of knowledge; and natural and supernatural realms. For example, what threat did philosophers' natural explanations for miraculous phenomena pose to religion? What role did alchemy and theology play in Isaac Newton's approach to natural philosophy? More broadly, did magic underlie a larger project of cultural and religious reform? What is the relationship between magic and those transformations in knowledge and practice traditionally associated with the Scientific Revolution?
The likely seminar programme is as follows:
For more information, please visit the module catalogue.