Sunday, October 14, 2012

abstract for a talk on textual sources of magic, epistemological problems

Giving a talk tomorrow for an interdisciplinary seminar series on pre-modern era research (before 1800) in Tartu, Estonia.

Jason Cronbach Van Boom

This talk discusses the use of textual sources in the study of medieval and early modern magic (1100-1650). Like other historical disciplines, the history of magic relies heavily on texts. When studying medieval and early modern magic, however, the historian uses two kinds of texts: texts about magic, and texts that were intended as tools for magical practices. The former category is extremely diverse with respect to content and ideological perspective. This category includes academic, legal, polemical, and popular texts. Academic and polemical texts themselves fall into different categories, mostly juridical, theological, and philosophical. Their authors come form a spectrum of learned opinion about magic, ranging from complete opposition to ardent defense. Grimoires and other magical texts comprise a distinct category. They address a limited audience (practitioners of magic) and are intended to be experimental handbooks rather than speculative treatises. Consequently, they pose some special epistemological problems. The talk will discuss four texts as primary examples: the De Mineralibus of Albertus Magnus, the Malleus Maleficarum of Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger, the De Occulta Philosophia of Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa, and a 15th century German necromantic manual (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, MS Clm 849) published by Prof. Richard Kieckhefer.

No comments:

Post a Comment