Religious Studies | Colloquium in Ancient Religions: Magic
R633 | 26650 | J. Harrill

Magic is perhaps the most contested category in the academic study
of religion.  For example, some scholars sharply separate magic from
religion.  To understand the history of the academic debate, this
course surveys the modern theories of magic with a grounding in the
important primary sources from classical antiquity, which gave rise
to the debate in the first place.  The goal is to understand
magicians in the ancient world, their techniques and devices to
serve their clientele, in order to explain both their popularity and
condemnation.  We will examine ancient descriptions of magic,
together with its related category superstition, in light of the
religious, political, and social contexts in which the ancient texts
were produced.  Students will write a short (57 page) essay on a
particular theorist of magic and a longer (1520 page) research
essay on a semester project of the student's choice.