Tutor: Sophie Weeks

Module type: Comparative Histories

Module code: HIS00009H

Magic is a term which is widely used and which has been part of the belief system of many historical societies. Despite its marginality to current mainstream beliefs in the West, it continues to play an important role in western culture as a source of entertainment, while in many non - western societies magic continues to be accepted as part of the normal order of things. Our objective in this module is to try to get to grips with the concept and operation of magic in a variety of different contexts, drawing on a wide chronological range of case studies, and looking at the topic not just through a normal historical focus but also through a range of approaches including anthropology and modern popular culture.

Seminar topics are likely to include the following:

  • The World of Harry Potter
  • The World of the Azande
  • The World of the Renaissance Magus
  • Magic in Antiquity: Greece, Rome and Egypt
  • Competing Intellectual Systems I: Magic, Science and Christianity
  • Popular Magic
  • Magic for Children: The Fairy Story from the Brothers Grimm to Walt Disney
  • Magic for Adults: Aleister Crowley, Wicca, and New Age
  • Review, Reflection and Summing up


For more information, please visit the module catalogue.