World of Medieval Magic

The chief purpose of this colloquium is to explore the manifold aspects of medieval magic. Spanning the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim western world, we will consider tales and legends of the supernatural, and the ways in which medieval people accepted and sought to engage otherworldly powers, in everyday life and through a variety of practices: beliefs in fairies and miracles; the cults of holy men and women; astrology and fortune-telling; alchemy; folk medicine, including remedies and healing spells; and death, burial customs, and vampires. The Devil was recognized large fields of action, such as the imagination, sorcery, and witchcraft. Both learned and popular medieval cultures admitted the practice of magical arts. There was, however, a differentiated sociology of magic, so that rural folk, urbanites, aristocrats, women, and clerics, all engaged with their own brands of beliefs and modes of participation, which were in turn variously accepted or rejected by official authorities. The history of medieval magic intersects that of repression and persecution.

The chief purpose of this colloquium is to explore the manifold aspects of medieval magic. Spanning the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim western world, we will consider tales and legends of the supernatural and the ways that medieval people accepted and implemented otherworldly powers, in everyday life, and through a variety of practices: beliefs in fairies and miracles; the cults of holy men and women; astrology and fortune-telling; alchemy; folk medicine, including remedies and healing spells; death, burial customs, and vampires; allowing the devil fields of action, such as the imagination, sorcery, and witchcraft. Both learned and popular medieval cultures reserved a place for the practice of magical arts. There was, however, a differentiated sociology of magic, for rural folk, urbanites, aristocrats, women, and clerics, all engaged with their own brands of belief and participation, which were in turn variously accepted or rejected by official authorities. The history of medieval magic intersects that of repression and persecution.

Course Information

HIST-UA 262

Undergraduate

4 Points

Term Section Instructor Schedule Location

Fall 2017

1
Brigitte Bedos-Rezak
W: 2:00 PM - 4:45 PM KJCC 607