Magic in the Modern World: Strategies of Repression and Legitimization

Magic in the Modern World: Strategies of Repression and Legitimization

by Edward Bever, Randall Styers

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This collection of essays considers the place of magic in the modern world, first by exploring the ways in which modernity has been defined in explicit opposition to magic and superstition, and then by illuminating how modern proponents of magic have worked to legitimize their practices through an overt embrace of evolving forms such as esotericism and supernaturalism.

Taking a two-track approach, this book explores the complex dynamics of the construction of the modern self and its relation to the modern preoccupation with magic. Essays examine how modern “rational” consciousness is generated and maintained and how proponents of both magical and scientific traditions rationalize evidence to fit accepted orthodoxy. This book also describes how people unsatisfied with the norms of modern subjectivity embrace various forms of magic—and the methods these modern practitioners use to legitimate magic in the modern world.

A compelling assessment of magic from the early modern period to today, Magic in the Modern World shows how, despite the dominant culture’s emphatic denial of their validity, older forms of magic persist and develop while new forms of magic continue to emerge.

In addition to the editors, contributors include Egil Asprem, Erik Davis, Megan Goodwin, Dan Harms, Adam Jortner, and Benedek Láng.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780271079875
Publisher: Penn State University Press
Publication date: 05/09/2017
Series: Magic in History
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 216
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Edward Bever is Professor of History at the State University of New York at Old Westbury and the author of The Realities of Witchcraft and Popular Magic in Early Modern Europe: Culture, Cognition, and Everyday Life.
Randall Styers is Associate Professor of Religion at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the author of Making Magic: Religion, Magic, and Science in the Modern World.

Table of Contents


Introduction, Edward Bever and Randall Styers

Magic and the Making of Modernity

Chapter 1, “Bad Habits, or, How Superstition Disappeared in the Modern World,” Randall Styers

Chapter 2, “Descartes’ Dreams, the Neuropsychology of Disbelief, and the Making of the Modern Self,” Edward Bever

Chapter 3, “Why Magic Cannot Be Falsified by Experiments,” Benedek Láng

Chapter 4, “Witches as Liars: Witchcraft and Civilization in the Early American Republic,” Adam Jortner

Magic in Modernity

Chapter 5, “Loagaeth, q consibra a caosg: The Contested Arena of Modern Enochian Angel Magic,” Egil Asprem

Chapter 6, “Babalon Launching: Jack Parsons, Rocketry, and the ‘Method of Science,’” Erik Davis

Chapter 7, “Manning the High Seat: Seidr as Self-Making in Contemporary NorseNeopaganisms,” Megan Goodwin

Chapter 8, “Reviving Dead Names: Strategies of Legitimization in the Necronomicon of Simon and the Dark Aesthetic,” Dan Harms

Selected Bibliography


List of Contributors


Customer Reviews