Workshop on Medieval Magic: Future Directions

Illustration of a health-giving, humanoid mandrake from a twelfth-century pharmacopoeia. London, British Library, MS Harley 1585, fol. 57r.

Wednesday 26 June 2019
IAS Ground, South Wing, UCL
Convened by Sophie Page (UCL) and Catherine Rider (Exeter)

The recently published The Routledge History of Medieval Magic (January 2019) brought together the work of scholars from across Europe and North America to provide extensive insights into recent developments in the study of medieval magic between c.1100 and c.1500. The book covers a wide range of topics, including the magical texts which circulated in medieval Europe, the attitudes of intellectuals and churchmen to magic, the ways in which magic intersected with other aspects of medieval culture, and the early witch trials of the fifteenth century. In doing so, it offers the reader a detailed look at the impact magic had within medieval society, such as its relationship to gender roles, natural philosophy, and courtly culture. This workshop brings together nine contributors to The Routledge History of Medieval Magic to discuss how research on this subject could develop in the future, highlighting under-explored subjects, unpublished sources, and new approaches to the topic.


1:30–2pm Registration and Coffee

2–2:05pm Welcome by Sophie Page and Catherine Rider

2:05–2:45pm Keynote Paper. Chair: Catherine Rider (Exeter)

  • Marilyn Corrie (UCL) Magic and Illusions in Chrétien de Troyes’ Cligès
  • Response from Lea Olsan (University of Louisiana) and questions

2:45–4pm Future Directions Panel (five-minute presentations followed by discussion). Chair: Sophie Page (UCL)

  • David d’Avray (UCL) Concepts
  • Charles Burnett (Warburg Institute) Arabic Magic
  • Antonella Sannino (Naples) Hermetic Magic
  • Peter Jones (Cambridge) Medicine and Magic
  • Corinne Saunders (Durham) Literature and Magic
  • Catherine Rider (Exeter) Gender and Magic
  • Roberta Gilchrist (Reading) Archaeology and Magic
  • Sophie Page (UCL) Diagrams and Magic
  • Michael Bailey (Iowa) Scepticism and Magic

4–4:30pm Coffee

4:30–5:30pm Responses to The Routledge History of Medieval Magic

  • Jennifer Farrell (Exeter)
  • John Sabapathy (UCL)
  • Bill Maclehose (UCL)

5:30pm Wine Reception

Attendance is FREE, but booking is required. To register for the whole workshop, click here; to register for the book launch only (4:30pm onwards), click here.

A strange fourteenth-century inhabitant of St Margaret’s church, Cley next the Sea, Norfolk. Photo: James Brown.