Magical Thinking History, Possibility and the Idea of the Occult

  • ISBN13:


  • ISBN10:


  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2013-07-18
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Purchase Benefits
  • Free Shipping On Orders Over $35!
    Your order must be $35 or more to qualify for free economy shipping. Bulk sales, PO's, Marketplace items, eBooks and apparel do not qualify for this offer.
  • Get Rewarded for Ordering Your Textbooks! Enroll Now
List Price: $42.95 Save up to $9.96
  • Buy New
    Add to Cart Free Shipping


Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?

  • The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.
  • The eBook copy of this book is not guaranteed to include any supplemental materials. Typically, only the book itself is included. This is true even if the title states it includes any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.


Magic is usually defined as a non-modern phenomenon, contrasted with modern rationalism and science. However, the idea of magic has remained persistent in scholarly discourse throughout history from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment and beyond. This volume explores how the notion of magic is articulated and theorised in the writing of history. Departing from writing "about" magic in history, this volume addresses magic as it relates to the trajectories of intellectual history as a whole, with particular reference to a diverse series of case studies in thought about magic. The author also engages with the history and philosophy of science; operating within this framework, the author argues that magic has always been figured as "medieval" in the formulation of the discourses of modernity, and that thinking or writing about magic has engendered multiple epistemological crises. Through these controversies, the idea of magic and the occult has profoundly unsettled the understanding of history in Western culture. The resulting study is an investigation of the implications of magic (and the study of magic) for intellectual history.

Author Biography

Stuart McWilliams is a research fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of Edinburgh. His research interests include medieval intellectual history, the history of the occult and the philosophy of history.

Table of Contents

Introduction / 1. A Bastard Sister: Magic as an Object of Study in the Twentieth Century / 2. The Hidden Name: Periodization and the Politics of Definition / 3. Divination and History: The Necromantic Imagination / 4. Representations I: Demonological Aesthetics / 5. Representations II: Angelic Mediations / 6. Where is the Ritual in 'Ritual Magic'? / 7. The Practice of Syncretism: Religious Hybridization in Late Antique and Medieval Ritual Magic / 8. The Experimental Act / 9. Does Magic Work? / Conclusion / Bibliography / Index.

Rewards Program

Write a Review