RELG 102. Magic, Theory and Practice

Historian Owen Davies defines Magic as "the everyday employment of Religion for reasons other than spiritual enlightenment or salvation." In this course we examine the history, theory, and meaning of Magic as a category of belief and practice intersecting with religious forms, institutions, and material cultures. Focusing on the arts of American Magic - what we will call Conjure Americana, we will look at the rise of Magic in the early modern era, from its initial formations in post Reformation European popular religion, to its expressions in English Christianity, Puritanism and in colonial encounters with indigenous religions. This seminar centers on theoretical literature and secondary sources about Anglo-American, Native American, and African American Magic, with an emphasis on local occult traditions such as Pennsylvania Dutch and German healing arts, Pow-wows, charms, and sigil architecture. Seminar will include a mandatory lab section and two off-campus research trips. Religion prerequisites recommended, but not required. 
2 credits.
Spring 2023. Chireau.
Catalog chapter: Religion  
Department website:

Check the Spring 2021 Schedule of Courses

Check the Fall 2021 Schedule of Courses

Print-Friendly Page (opens a new window)