Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2020

Published In

Magic: Theory And Practice


Religion 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, and in colonial encounters with indigenous religions. This seminar centers on Anglo-American, Native American, and African American Magic, with an emphasis on local occult traditions such as Pennsylvania Dutch and German healing arts, Pow-wow, contemporary energy healing, chaos magic, and sigil magick architecture.

Funding Agency

Swarthmore College Provost Office

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Professor Yvonne Chireau was awarded a Digital Humanities Curricular Grant from the Provost's Office for use in her spring 2020 course, Magic: Theory and Practice (RELG 102). The course syllabus and assignment instructions are made freely available here courtesy of the author.

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Religion Commons