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Magic A Very Short Introduction

Author : Owen Davies
ISBN : 9780199588022
Genre : History
File Size : 38. 99 MB
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A wide-ranging overview of how magic has been defined, understood and practiced over the millennia introduces it in today's world as a real force that helps people overcome misfortune, poverty and illness. By the author of Grimoires: A History of Magic Books. Original.

Magic A Very Short Introduction

Author : Owen Davies
ISBN : 9780191623882
Genre : Religion
File Size : 77. 86 MB
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Defining 'magic' is a maddening task. Over the last century numerous philosophers, anthropologists, historians, and theologians have attempted to pin down its essential meaning, sometimes analysing it in such complex and abstruse depth that it all but loses its sense altogether. For this reason, many people often shy away from providing a detailed definition, assuming it is generally understood as the human control of supernatural forces. 'Magic' continues to pervade the popular imagination and idiom. People feel comfortable with its contemporary multiple meanings, unaware of the controversy, conflict, and debate its definition has caused over two and a half millennia. In common usage today 'magic' is uttered in reference to the supernatural, superstition, illusion, trickery, religious miracles, fantasies, and as a simple superlative. The literary confection known as 'magical realism' has considerable appeal and many modern scientists have ironically incorporated the word into their vocabulary, with their 'magic acid', 'magic bullets' and 'magic angles'. Since the so-called European Enlightenment magic has often been seen as a marker of primitivism, of a benighted earlier stage of human development. Yet across the modern globalized world hundreds of millions continue to resort to magic - and also to fear it. Magic provides explanations and remedies for those living in extreme poverty and without access to alternatives. In the industrial West, with its state welfare systems, religious fundamentalists decry the continued moral threat posed by magic. Under the guise of neo-Paganism, its practice has become a religion in itself. Magic continues to be a truly global issue. This Very Short Introduction does not attempt to provide a concluding definition of magic: it is beyond simple definition. Instead it explores the many ways in which magic, as an idea and a practice, has been understood and employed over the millennia. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Paganism A Very Short Introduction

Author : Owen Davies
ISBN : 9780191620010
Genre : Religion
File Size : 32. 66 MB
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'Paganism' is an evocative word that, even today, conjures up deep-seated emotions and prejudices. Until recently, it was primarily a derogatory term used by Christians to describe the non-Christian cultures confronted and vanquished by their Churches. For some it evokes images of sacrifice and barbaric behaviour, while for others it symbolises a peace-loving, nature-worshipping spiritual relationship with the earth. This Very Short Introduction explores the meaning of paganism - through a chronological overview of the attitudes towards its practices and beliefs - from the ancient world through to the present day. Owen Davies largely looks at paganism through the eyes of the Christian world, and how, over the centuries, notions and representations of its nature were shaped by religious conflict, power struggles, colonialism, and scholarship. Despite the expansion of Christianity and Islam, Pagan cultures continue to exist around the world, whilst in the West new formations of paganism constitute one of the fastest-growing religions. Focussing on paganism in Europe, but exploring the nature of paganism globally, Davies looks at how Europeans discovered new cultures through colonial expansion, missionary work, and anthropological study. Contemporary social paganism can be a liberating and social force, and the idea of a global Pagan theology is now on the religious map. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Bacteria A Very Short Introduction

Author : Sebastian G.B. Amyes
ISBN : 9780199578764
Genre : Science
File Size : 53. 86 MB
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In this Very Short Introduction, Sebastian Amyes explores the nature of bacteria. As a fundamental branch of life, they inhabit every part of the Earth's surface. Amyes examines their origin and evolution, bacteria in the environment, and bacteria and disease, to demonstrate the fundamental role they play in our existence.

Nuclear Physics

Author : Frank Close
ISBN : 9780198718635
Genre : Science
File Size : 35. 1 MB
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Frank Close describes the historical development of nuclear physics, our understanding of the nucleus, how nuclei form, and the applications of the field in medicine. Exploring key concepts, he shows how nuclear physics brings the physics of the stars to Earth.

Witchcraft A Very Short Introduction

Author : Malcolm Gaskill
ISBN : 9780191613685
Genre : Body, Mind & Spirit
File Size : 64. 95 MB
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Witchcraft is a subject that fascinates us all, and everyone knows what a witch is - or do they? From childhood most of us develop a sense of the mysterious, malign person, usually an old woman. Historically, too, we recognize witch-hunting as a feature of pre-modern societies. But why do witches still feature so heavily in our cultures and consciousness? From Halloween to superstitions, and literary references such as Faust and even Harry Potter, witches still feature heavily in our society. In this Very Short Introduction Malcolm Gaskill challenges all of this, and argues that what we think we know is, in fact, wrong. Taking a historical perspective from the ancient world to contemporary paganism, Gaskill reveals how witchcraft has meant different things to different people and that in every age it has raised questions about the distinction between fantasy and reality, faith and proof. Telling stories, delving into court records, and challenging myths, Gaskill examines the witch-hunts of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and explores the reinvention of witchcraft - as history, religion, fiction, and metaphor. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

The Oxford Illustrated History Of Witchcraft And Magic

Author : Owen Davies
ISBN : 9780199608447
Genre : History
File Size : 50. 18 MB
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The 4000-year story of witchcraft and magic - from the ancient world to Harry Potter... and beyond...

Witchcraft A Very Short Introduction

Author : Malcolm Gaskill
ISBN : 9780199236954
Genre : History
File Size : 60. 67 MB
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Examines the history and origins of witchcraft, from pre-history to the present day, considering why it still features so heavily in our culture

Superstition A Very Short Introduction

Author : Stuart Vyse
ISBN : 9780192551320
Genre : Social Science
File Size : 30. 24 MB
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Do you touch wood for luck, or avoid hotel rooms on floor thirteen? Would you cross the path of a black cat, or step under a ladder? Is breaking a mirror just an expensive waste of glass, or something rather more sinister? Despite the dominance of science in today's world, superstitious beliefs - both traditional and new - remain surprisingly popular. A recent survey of adults in the United States found that 33 percent believed that finding a penny was good luck, and 23 percent believed that the number seven was lucky. Where did these superstitions come from, and why do they persist today? This Very Short Introduction explores the nature and surprising history of superstition from antiquity to the present. For two millennia, superstition was a label derisively applied to foreign religions and unacceptable religious practices, and its primary purpose was used to separate groups and assert religious and social authority. After the Enlightenment, the superstition label was still used to define groups, but the new dividing line was between reason and unreason. Today, despite our apparent sophistication and technological advances, superstitious belief and behaviour remain widespread, and highly educated people are not immune. Stuart Vyse takes an exciting look at the varieties of popular superstitious beliefs today and the psychological reasons behind their continued existence, as well as the likely future course of superstition in our increasingly connected world. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Fairy Tale

Author : Marina Warner
ISBN : 9780199532155
Genre : Fairy tales
File Size : 50. 77 MB
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Marina Warner guides us through the rich world of fairy tale, from Cinderella and Hansel and Gretel to Snow White and Pan's Labyrinth. Exploring pervasive themes of folklore, myth, the supernatural, imagination, and fantasy, Warner highlights the impact of the genre on human understanding, history, and culture.

Ritual

Author : Barry Stephenson
ISBN : 9780199943524
Genre : Religion
File Size : 73. 20 MB
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Alongside description of a number of specific rites, this volume explores ritual from both theoretical and historical perspectives. Barry Stephenson focuses on the places where ritual touches everyday life: in politics and power; moments of transformation in the life cycle; as performance and embodiment. He also discusses the boundaries of ritual, and how and why certain behaviours have been studied as ritual while others have not.

Ritual A Very Short Introduction

Author : Barry Stephenson
ISBN : 9780199943593
Genre : Religion
File Size : 34. 38 MB
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Ritual is part of what it means to be human. Like sports, music, and drama, ritual defines and enriches culture, putting those who practice it in touch with sources of value and meaning larger than themselves. Ritual is unavoidable, yet it holds a place in modern life that is decidedly ambiguous. What is ritual? What does it do? Is it useful? What are the various kinds of ritual? Is ritual tradition bound and conservative or innovative and transformational? Alongside description of a number of specific rites, this Very Short Introduction explores ritual from both theoretical and historical perspectives. Barry Stephenson focuses on the places where ritual touches everyday life: in politics and power; moments of transformation in the life cycle; as performance and embodiment. He also discusses the boundaries of ritual, and how and why certain behaviors have been studied as ritual while others have not. Stephenson shows how ritual is an important vehicle for group and identity formation; how it generates and transmits beliefs and values; how it can be used to exploit and oppress; and how it has served as a touchstone for thinking about cultural origins and historical change. Encompassing the breadth and depth of modern ritual studies, Barry Stephenson's Very Short Introduction also develops a narrative of ritual's place in social and cultural life. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

The Devil A Very Short Introduction

Author : Darren Oldridge
ISBN : 9780199580996
Genre : Religion
File Size : 86. 23 MB
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The Devil has fascinated writers and theologians since the time of the New Testament, and inspired many dramatic and haunting works of art. Today he remains a potent image in popular culture. The Devil: A Very Short Introduction presents an introduction to the Christian Devil through the history of ideas and the lives of real people.

The Magic Of Writing

Author : Adrian May
ISBN : 9781137607980
Genre : Language Arts & Disciplines
File Size : 29. 23 MB
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In this engaging guide, teacher, poet and lyricist Adrian May shows how magic is a tool used by writers to generate creativity, where concepts of magic are seen as portals of creative power. This unique book features approachable chapters on aspects of magic and writing - such as the Tarot and the creative methods of W. B. Yeats. Blending literary criticism with practical exercises, this text will enable readers to understand the magical nature of creative writing, giving them a sense of wider possibilities and equipping them to improve their creative writing. This an ideal resource for undergraduate or postgraduate students taking courses on Creative Writing, as well as established or budding writers working independently.

Everyday Magic In Early Modern Europe

Author : Kathryn A. Edwards
ISBN : 9781317138341
Genre : History
File Size : 38. 88 MB
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While pre-modern Europe is often seen as having an 'enchanted' or 'magical' worldview, the full implications of such labels remain inconsistently explored. Witchcraft, demonology, and debates over pious practices have provided the main avenues for treating those themes, but integrating them with other activities and ideas seen as forming an enchanted Europe has proven to be a much more difficult task. This collection offers one method of demystifying this world of everyday magic. Integrating case studies and more theoretical responses to the magical and preternatural, the authors here demonstrate that what we think of as extraordinary was often accepted as legitimate, if unusual, occurrences or practices. In their treatment of and attitudes towards spirit-assisted treasure-hunting, magical recipes, trials for sanctity, and visits by guardian angels, early modern Europeans showed more acceptance of and comfort with the extraordinary than modern scholars frequently acknowledge. Even witchcraft could be more pervasive and less threatening than many modern interpretations suggest. Magic was both mundane and mysterious in early modern Europe, and the witches who practiced it could in many ways be quite ordinary members of their communities. The vivid cases described in this volume should make the reader question how to distinguish the ordinary and extraordinary and the extent to which those terms need to be redefined for an early modern context. They should also make more immediate a world in which magic was an everyday occurrence.

Prehistory A Very Short Introduction

Author : Chris Gosden
ISBN : 9780191577789
Genre : History
File Size : 76. 78 MB
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This VSI to prehistory will introduce the reader to four and a half million years of human existence. Many of the familiar aspects of modern life are no more than a century or two old, yet our deep social structures and skills were in large measure developed by small bands of our prehistoric ancestors many millennia ago. Chris Gosden invites us to think seriously about who we are by considering who we have been. The idea of prehistory owes its origins to Darwin - suddenly any description of human life on Earth had to take account of a much longer timespan than ever before. What new views of ourselves has this new timespan opened up? Chris Gosden's fascinating new book asks: What relationships did our distant ancestors have with the natural world, with each other, and with the objects and values they created? And as humanity hurtles into a future of virtual interraction and genetic manipulation, what can the darkest recesses of our past teach us about our future? ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Creative Histories Of Witchcraft

Author : Poppy Corbett
ISBN : 9781009221078
Genre : Religion
File Size : 59. 80 MB
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How can researchers study magic without destroying its mystery? Drawing on a collaborative project between the playwright Poppy Corbett, the poet Anna Kisby Compton, and the historian William G. Pooley, this Element presents thirteen tools for creative-academic research into magic, illustrated through case studies from France (1790–1940) and examples from creative outputs: write to discover; borrow forms; use the whole page; play with footnotes; erase the sources; write short; accumulate fragments; re-enact; improvise; use dialogue; change perspective; make methods of metaphors; use props. These tools are ways to 'untell' the dominant narratives that shape stereotypes of the 'witch' which frame belief in witchcraft as ignorant and outdated. Writing differently suggests ways to think and feel differently, to stay with the magic, rather than explaining it away. The Element includes practical creative exercises to try as well as research materials from French newspaper and trial sources from the period.

Magical Capitalism

Author : Brian Moeran
ISBN : 9783319743974
Genre : Business & Economics
File Size : 78. 23 MB
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This volume of essays examines the ways in which magical practices are found in different aspects of contemporary capitalist societies. From contract law to science, by way of finance, business, marketing, advertising, cultural production, and the political economy in general, each chapter argues that the kind of magic studied by anthropologists in less developed societies – shamanism, sorcery, enchantment, the occult – is not only alive and well, but flourishing in the midst of so-called ‘modernity’. Modern day magicians range from fashion designers and architects to Donald Trump and George Soros. Magical rites take place in the form of political summits, the transformation of products into brands through advertising campaigns, and the biannual fashion collections shown in New York, London, Milan and Paris. Magical language, in the form of magical spells, is used by everyone, from media to marketers and all others devoted to the art of ‘spin’. While magic may appear to be opposed to systems of rational economic thought, Moeran and Malefyt highlight the ways it may in fact be an accomplice to it.

Fairy Tale A Very Short Introduction

Author : Marina Warner
ISBN : 9780191060182
Genre : Fiction
File Size : 80. 72 MB
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From wicked queens, beautiful princesses, elves, monsters, and goblins, to giants, glass slippers, poisoned apples, magic keys, and mirrors, the characters and images of fairy tales have cast a spell over readers and audiences, both adults and children, for centuries. These fantastic stories have travelled across cultural borders, and been passed on from generation to generation, ever-changing, renewed with each re-telling. Few forms of literature have greater power to enchant us and rekindle our imagination than a fairy tale. But what is a fairy tale? Where do they come from and what do they mean? What do they try and communicate to us about morality, sexuality, and society? The range of fairy tales stretches across great distances and time; their history is entangled with folklore and myth, and their inspiration draws on ideas about nature and the supernatural, imagination and fantasy, psychoanalysis, and feminism. In this Very Short Introduction, Marina Warner digs into a rich hoard of fairy tales in all their brilliant and fantastical variations, in order to define a genre and evaluate a literary form that keeps shifting through time and history. Drawing on a glittering array of examples, from classics such as Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, and The Sleeping Beauty, the Grimm Brothers' Hansel and Gretel, and Hans Andersen's The Little Mermaid, to modern-day realizations including Walt Disney's Snow White, Warner forms a persuasive case for fairy tale as a crucial repository of human understanding and culture. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Magical Transformations On The Early Modern English Stage

Author : Lisa Hopkins
ISBN : 9781317102755
Genre : Performing Arts
File Size : 88. 61 MB
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Magical Transformations on the Early Modern Stage furthers the debate about the cultural work performed by representations of magic on the early modern English stage. It considers the ways in which performances of magic reflect and feed into a sense of national identity, both in the form of magic contests and in its recurrent linkage to national defence; the extent to which magic can trope other concerns, and what these might be; and how magic is staged and what the representational strategies and techniques might mean. The essays range widely over both canonical plays-Macbeth, The Tempest, The Winter’s Tale, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Doctor Faustus, Bartholomew Fair-and notably less canonical ones such as The Birth of Merlin, Fedele and Fortunio, The Merry Devil of Edmonton, The Devil is an Ass, The Late Lancashire Witches and The Witch of Edmonton, putting the two groups into dialogue with each other and also exploring ways in which they can be profitably related to contemporary cases or accusations of witchcraft. Attending to the representational strategies and self-conscious intertextuality of the plays as well as to their treatment of their subject matter, the essays reveal the plays they discuss as actively intervening in contemporary debates about witchcraft and magic in ways which themselves effect transformation rather than simply discussing it. At the heart of all the essays lies an interest in the transformative power of magic, but collectively they show that the idea of transformation applies not only to the objects or even to the subjects of magic, but that the plays themselves can be seen as working to bring about change in the ways that they challenge contemporary assumptions and stereotypes.

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