Out of Nature: Myth and Magic in the Early Modern Period

Myth Reading Group

Thursday 18 May

12.00-1.30pm in Room 5B.330

We are very pleased to announce that Dr Leon Burnett, founding director of the Centre for Myth Studies, will lead a discussion of myth and magic in the early modern period.


Jean Paul Laurens (1838-1921), Dr Fausto, oil on canvas, Rio Grande do Sul Museum of Art, Brazil [image on the public domain]

In every historical period, mastery of myth and magic has appeared to offer the opportunity – sceptics would say the illusion – of escaping the natural bounds that constrain humanity. Myth, like religion, appeals to the imagination and binds a community, but magic goes further: it grants power exclusively to the person who possesses knowledge of its operations.

The reading material for this session is taken from two major dramatic works of the early modern period, The Tempest and Doctor Faustus. They pose the question, implicitly, of what is at stake, from a mythical perspective, in the relationship between a magus and his company, when enchantment plays a central role in the action.


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