Now Booking! Living in a Magical World: Inner Lives, 1300–1900

Montage of illustrations from the Compendium rarissimum totius Artis Magicae sistematisatae per celeberrimos Artis hujus Magistros. Anno 1057. Noli me tangere (c.1775). Wellcome Collection (CC BY 4.0). For more on the background and history of this extraordinary spell book see this article.

St Anne’s College, Oxford
17–19 September 2018

An international conference organised and funded by the Leverhulme Trust research project Inner Lives: Emotions, Identity, and the Supernatural, 1300–1900.

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Historians have learned to regard the supernatural as integral to past lives. No longer are magical and occult beliefs anachronistically condescended to as ‘superstitions’, entertained only by a credulous minority and ancillary to everyday existence. Instead, the near-constant presence of unseen yet powerful forces – benevolent and malign, across domestic, communal, and cosmic environments – now seems central to a subtle and pervasive worldview held by sane, intelligent people whose outlook on the universe was no less sophisticated than our own. At the same time, supernatural beliefs were unstable, inconsistent, and contested.

Taking this insight as its starting point, this conference will explore the meanings, practices, and everyday consequences of living in a magical world, with special reference to its complex relationship to the inner lives of our forebears, from the late medieval to the modern period. Over three days, fifty-two papers from a variety of geographical contexts and disciplinary perspectives, and from international researchers at all stages of their careers, will relate the history of magic, witchcraft, ghosts, and other supernatural phenomena to the following themes and research questions:

  • The history of selfhood, personal identity, phenomenology, and subjectivity;
  • The history of the emotions, and the significance of feeling states – insofar as we can ever recover them – for understanding and appreciating past experiences and interiorities;
  • And the extent to which interactions with occult realms and unseen worlds – which often engendered powerful feelings of anger, terror, and grief, but also of wonder, hope, and security – are privileged sites for understanding past emotional repertoires and experiences and, in turn, inner lives.

The programme also includes a Drinks Reception at and Private View of the project’s exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, Spellbound: Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft (31 August 2018 – 6 January 2019).

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Monday 17 September

11–12:45pm Arrivals, Registration, and Buffet Lunch (Ruth Deech Building, Foyer A)

12:45–1pm (Tsuzuki Lecture Theatre [TLT]) Welcome and Introductions: Malcolm Gaskill (UEA), Sophie Page (UCL), Owen Davies (Hertfordshire)

1–2:30pm Parallel Sessions

Panel 1: The Inner Lives of Witches (TLT)
Chair: Owen Davies (Hertfordshire)

  • Debora Moretti (Bristol) Sorcery, Devil Worship, Blood Drinking, and Child Murder: The Inner Life of a Self-Accused Eighteenth-Century Tuscan Maliarda and Prostitute
  • Thomas Robisheaux (Duke) The Inner Life of a Female Prophet: Friederike Hauffe, the Seeress of Prevorst
  • Liana Saif (Oxford) Its Never Just Witchcraft: The Trial of Sellem the Moor in Malta (1605)

Panel 2: Magical Interiorities I (Seminar Room 7 [SR7])
Chair: Sophie Page (UCL)

  • Michael Bailey (Iowa State) Magic as a Window to the Soul: Judging the Inner Lives of Magicians in the Late Middle Ages
  • Fabrizio Conti (John Cabot) Magic, ‘Superstition’, and Christianization: Reshaping Identities and Interiorities in Fifteenth-Century Italy
  • Lauri Ockenström (Jyväskylä) Magical Images and Shaping Selfhood in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe

2:30–3pm Tea, Coffee, and Biscuits (Foyer A)

3–5pm Parallel Sessions

Panel 3: Shaping Spellbound (TLT)
Chair: James Brown (UEA)

Roundtable discussion and Q&A on the creation of the Inner Lives project’s major new exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology Spellbound: Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft (31 August 2018 – 6 January 2019). Featuring lead curators Sophie Page (UCL) and Marina Wallace (Artakt); curators Owen Davies (Hertfordshire), Malcolm Gaskill (UEA), and Ceri Houlbrook (Hertfordshire); and contemporary artists Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey (Ackroyd & Harvey) [TBC], Annie Cattrell (Royal College of Art), and Katharine Dowson.

Panel 4: Supernatural Thinking in the Modern Era (SR7)
Chair: William Pooley (Bristol)

  • Paul Cowdell (Independent) Afterlives: Ghosts, Spiritualism, and What Remains
  • Bruce Hood (Bristol) The Natural Origins of Supernatural Thinking
  • Peter Lamont (Edinburgh) Suspension and Disbelief: Floating Ideas in Victorian Britain
  • Kristof Smeyers (Antwerp) Stigmatised: Supernatural Wounds in the Nineteenth Century

6:30–8pm Drinks Reception and Private View, Spellbound: Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft, Atrium & Galleries, Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology

Tuesday 18 September

9–11am Parallel Sessions

Panel 5: Witchcraft: Continuity and Change (TLT)
Chair: Malcolm Gaskill (UEA)

  • Nils Bubandt (Aarhus) Witchcraft and Historical Change Revisited; Or, Can Doubt Move?
  • Peter Geschiere (Amsterdam) Selfhood and Witchcraft among the Maka: Djambe, One’s Double, and the Second Pair of Eyes as Extra Dimensions
  • William Pooley (Bristol) Hypnosis, Neurosis, and Witchcraft in France c.1890–1930
  • Rita Voltmer (Trier) The End of a Magical World? Eberhard David Hauber’s ‘Witchcraft Quarterly’ (1738–1745) and the Enlightened Discourse

Panel 6: Material Magic (SR7)
Chair: Sophie Page (UCL)

  • Sasson Chahanovich (Harvard) IslamicMagicin Archives and Museums: A Comparative Analysis of the History and Politics of Magical Objects and Texts in Turkey, Egypt, and the UK
  • Ceri Houlbrook (Hertfordshire) Learning from Love-Locks: An Insight into the Emotions of Ritual Deposition
  • Liliana Leopardi (Hobart and William Smith) From Bones to Homes: Magical Gems as Transitional Objects of Selfhood
  • Maya Wassell-Smith (Cardiff) The Sailor’s Caul: Transferable, Corporeal, and Familial Magic

11–11:30am Tea, Coffee, and Biscuits (Foyer A)

11:30–1pm Parallel Sessions

Panel 7: Emotional Witchcraft I (TLT)
Chair: Sasha Handley (Manchester)

  • Richard Kieckhefer (Northwestern) From Enmity to Fear: The Psychology of Accusation in the Early European Witch Trials
  • Gábor Klaniczay (Central European University) Narratives of Fear and Anger in Early Modern Hungarian Witchcraft Accusations
  • María Tausiet (Zaragoza) Witches in the Bed: Night Terrors and Inner Desires

Panel 8: Magical Interiorities II (SR7)
Chair: Catherine Rider (Exeter)

  • Yuval Harari (Ben-Gurion) The Inner Life of the Adjurer: Magic Recipes as Ego Documents
  • Agata Paluch (Freie Universität Berlin) Intentionality and Selfhood in Early Modern Jewish Mysticism and Magic: Between Practical Kabbalah and Kabbalistic Practice
  • Gal Sofer (Ben-Gurion) Be strong and courageous!’: Management of Fear in The Solomonic Corpus

1–2pm Buffet Lunch (Foyer B)

2–4pm Parallel Sessions

Panel 9: Bodies Possessed (TLT)
Chair: Malcolm Gaskill (UEA)

  • Judith Bonzol (Sydney) Demonic Possession and the Enigma of Emotion in Early Modern Bermuda
  • Andreea Marculescu (Oklahoma) Vulnerable Bodies: Demonic Possession as Lived Experience in Medieval French Drama
  • Martha McGill (Edinburgh) Porous Bodies and Supernatural Invasions in Early Modern Britain
  • Jodie Shevlin (Ulster) Knocking the Devil Out: Exorcism in PreFamine Wexford

Panel 10: Love Magic (SR7)
Chair: Sophie Page (UCL)

  • Mattia Corso (Padua) The Enchantment of Bodies: An Interpretation of Love Magic in Early Modern Italy
  • Alexander Cummins (Independent) Charting the Heart: Exploring Love in Early Modern English Divination
  • Judit Kis-Halas (Hungarian Academy of Sciences) ‘When he was absent, she loved him, but as soon as she saw him, she hated him’: Love Sickness and the Magical Manipulation of Feelings in Early Modern Hungarian Witch Trials
  • Valerie Kivelson (Michigan) Magic and Marital Relations: Witchcraft at Work in Early Modern Russia

4–4:30pm Tea, Coffee, and Biscuits (Foyer A)

4:30–6pm Parallel Sessions

Panel 11: Emotional Witchcraft II (TLT)
Chair: Charlotte-Rose Millar (Queensland)

  • Louise Nyholm Kallestrup (Southern Denmark) Grief, Anger, and Expectations: Witchcraft and Fertility in Late SixteenthCentury Denmark
  • Laura Kounine (Sussex) Emotions, Conscience, and Selfhood in a Lutheran Witch Trial 
  • Martine Ostorero (Lausanne) Meeting the Devil, Facing the Invisible: Sensory Perception and Emotions in Fifteenth-Century Swiss-French Records

Panel 12: A Magical Miscellany I (SR7)
Chair: Owen Davies (Hertfordshire)

  • Willem de Blécourt (Meertens Institute) Spitting Pins: Between Bewitchment and Possession, the Netherlands and England Compared 
  • Adam Jortner (Auburn) Superstition at War: Mormons, Magic, and Politics, 1830–1838
  • Diane Purkiss (Oxford) Door into the Dark: Andrew Man and the World Below

7–9pm: Conference Dinner (Foyer B)

Wednesday 19 September

9–11am Parallel Sessions

Panel 13: Dreamscapes and Visions (TLT)
Chair: Sophie Page (UCL)

  • Julian Goodare (Edinburgh) Away With the Fairies: The Psychopathology of Visionary Encounters in Early Modern Scotland
  • Claire Fanger (Rice) ‘I was by the River Chobar and the skies opened’: Dreams, Prophecies, and Monastic Selves in the Late Middle Ages 
  • Göran Malmstedt (Gothenburg) Between Dreams and Reality 
  • Stephen Mitchell (Harvard) Some Medieval Nordic Dream(e)scapes, or How to Propitiate a Wraith

Panel 14: Animal Magic (SR7)
Chair: Kathleen Walker-Meikle (KCL)

  • Victoria Carr (Bristol) Encountering the Familiar: An Accuser’s Perspective
  • Diane Heath (Canterbury Christ Church) In the Shadow of the Phoenix: Emotional Meanings of Fantastic Creatures in Stone, Book, and Spoken Word
  • Lizanne Henderson (Glasgow) (Super)natural Animals in Early Modern Scotland: The Witch, the Charmer, and the Cow 
  • Charlotte-Rose Millar (Queensland) Witchcraft, Emotions, and Familiars in St Osyth, Essex

11–11:30am Tea, Coffee, and Biscuits (Foyer A)

11:30–1pm Parallel Sessions

Panel 15: Emotional Witchcraft III (TLT)
Chair: Malcolm Gaskill (UEA)

  • Johannes Dillinger (Oxford Brookes) Envy, Greed, and Witchcraft
  • Andrew Sneddon (Ulster) Witchcraft, Violence, and Emotions in PostFamine Ireland
  • Charles Zika (Melbourne) Saul and the Woman of Endor: Artists’ Warnings of the Power and Danger of Human Emotions

Panel 16: A Magical Miscellany II (SR7)
Chair: Joanne Edge (John Rylands Library, Manchester)

  • Ronald Hutton (Bristol) Christian Goddesses? The Development of New Quasi-Deities in Christian Western Europe
  • Tommy Kuusela (Institute for Language and Folklore, Uppsala) The Fears and Wonders of the Year Walk Tradition
  • Tabitha Stanmore (Bristol) Delving into the Demimonde: The Uses and Abuses of Magic at the English Royal Court, 1350–1650

1–2pm Buffet Lunch (Foyer B)

2–3pm Roundtable Discussion and Depart (TLT)

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Component Waged Student/Unwaged
Monday 17 September (Programme, Lunch, Refreshments) £34 £18
Tuesday 18 September (Programme, Lunch, Refreshments) £58 £30
Wednesday 19 September (Programme, Lunch, Refreshments) £34 £18
‘Spellbound’ Drinks Reception and Private View, Ashmolean Museum (Monday Evening) £24 £24
Conference Dinner, St Anne’s College (Tuesday Evening) £29 £29

The conference is now *SOLD OUT*; if you’d like to be added to the waiting list in the event of cancellations, please contact us with the days you’d like to attend. A limited quantity of subsidised on-site, en suite single accommodation at St Anne’s College (£60 per night), for the nights of Saturday 16, Monday 17, Tuesday 18, and Wednesday 19 September, is available to purchase separately *SOLD OUT*. For alternative accommodation options in Oxford, please see this list of hotels close to St Anne’s College (doc)University Rooms, the Oxford City Guide, AirBnB, or the usual hotel aggregators.

The deadline for registrations is Friday 17 August, although places are limited so we strongly advise booking early to avoid disappointment!

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Venue & Travel

The Ruth Deech building at St Anne’s College, where all formal sessions will take place.

The conference will take place at St Anne’s College, Oxford. Well known for its relaxed, friendly atmosphere, the College is situated within five acres of leafy grounds, and its facilities, accommodation, food, and service are renowned throughout the city. All formal sessions will take place in the fully accessible Ruth Deech building (view a campus map). Detailed instructions for reaching Oxford and St Anne’s can can be found on the College website.

St Anne’s College
Woodstock Road
T: +44 (0)1865 274800

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The conference is organised and funded by the Leverhulme Trust research project Inner Lives: Emotions, Identity, and the Supernatural, 1300–1900, with generous additional financial support from the University of East Anglia, the University of Hertfordshire, University College London, the Society for Renaissance Studies, and Palgrave Macmillan.

Palgrave Historical Studies in Witchcraft and Magic

The history of European witchcraft and magic continues to fascinate and challenge students and scholars. Now featuring over thirty titles, the aim of this series is to help illuminate some lesser known or little studied aspects of the history of witchcraft and magic. It also encourages the development of a broader corpus of work in other related areas of magic and the supernatural, such as angels, devils, spirits, ghosts, folk healing, and divination. To help further our understanding and interest in this wider history of beliefs and practices, the series includes research that looks beyond the usual focus on Western Europe and that also explores their relevance and influence from the medieval to the modern period. For more information about the series, visit the Palgrave Macmillan website.

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