Collins Living Learning Center | Learning from Demons
L220 | 24963 | Sarah Smith


This course will examine the historical interrelation of demonology and
genius from Antiquity to the Renaissance, focusing on the intersection of
demons and demonology with the themes of intellectual ambition, passion,
intuition, and the suffering (and exaltation) of genius. Certain men and women
throughout history have been driven by their vital intellectual passions to
learn, to create, to know, to understand, and to express fully - even if it meant
transgressing boundaries, violating tradition, abandoning common sense,
and throwing oneself into forbidden learning. In Antiquity, such intellectual
passion was thought to be ruled by a tutelary spirit called a daemon; from the
Middle Ages to the Renaissance, these passions were thought to be
stimulated (or aided and abetted) by demons - fallen angels and their
minions. The history of demonology is therefore also the history of human
desire for (and fear of) hidden or forbidden wisdom, and of the trials and
tribulations of those whose creative and intellectual gifts were perceived as
paranormal or supernatural, and of the creation of occult “technologies” that
would grant the learner superhuman powers of intellection or creativity.