Media & Magic
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Level: Undergraduate, Graduate
Division: The New School for Public Engagement
School: School of Media Studies
Department: Media Studies
Course Number: NMDS 5284
Course Format: Lecture
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
This seminar explores the relationship between media and magic. While some form of magic is attested to in nearly all cultures, magic takes on a particular form in the West, where it co-exists in an uneasy relationship with scientific and technological rationality. As our media become increasingly wireless, pervasive, and ubiquitous, it seems that they increasingly take on magical properties, operating through the ether and by virtue of mere gesture or touch. In turn, magic becomes increasingly technical and rationalized. Our everyday usage of such media is matched by its increasing technical complexity; we frequently use media but rarely understand how they work. In this course we examine the historical trajectory of the modern, western concept of magic as it develops during the Renaissance, in concert with the Scientific Revolution. We study primary texts that deal with magic, as well as modern scholarship. The course also explores the correspondences between Renaissance magic and modern media, from early cinema to contemporary media art. Students will have the opportunity to develop a semester-long project that may involve a combination of theory and practice.
Open to Graduate students.