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Ghosts, Devils, Magicians, and Monsters: Performing the Occult in Early English Drama ARSC390-083.

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Presentation on theme: "Ghosts, Devils, Magicians, and Monsters: Performing the Occult in Early English Drama ARSC390-083."— Presentation transcript:

1 Ghosts, Devils, Magicians, and Monsters: Performing the Occult in Early English Drama ARSC390-083

2 Course Questions  What do magical onstage moments tell us about religious beliefs, about the imagination, or about cultural attitudes towards difference?  What do they suggest about the limits of knowledge and science?  How is theater uniquely attuned to the occult?  Ultimately, why are people so interested in mysterious, unexplainable phenomena?

3 Some Possible Topics  the occult as a symbol of art  the relationships between the occult and science and religion  metatheatricality and dramatic performance  the occult as a marker of cultural difference  nationhood and nationalism  royalty and politics  psychology

4 Skills  Academic reflection, composition, rhetoric, and argumentation  Intensive reading and thoughtful analysis  Assessment and application of primary sources  Research and documentation  Performance and performance critique

5 Homework Read course website, especially close reading assignment and samples. Read “Playgoing in Shakespeare’s London” and “Sonnet 86” (available on website, password “magic” ).

6 Group Task Write a definition of “magic.”

7 Definition of “Magic” from Oxford English Dictionary “The use of ritual activities or observances which are intended to influence the course of events or to manipulate the natural world, usually involving the use of an occult or secret body of knowledge; sorcery, witchcraft.” Compare your group’s definition to this one. What is different? Would you revise your definition of magic based on this version? Consider terms such as illusion, spectacle, trick, ritual, performance.

8 Renaissance Beliefs Purgatory and Ghosts “Euery man and childe that is buried must pay sumwhat for masses and diriges to be song for him or elles they will accuse the dedes frendes and executours of heresie.” -- A Supplicacyon for the Beggers written about the year 1529, and (as is believed) by Simon Fish

9 Ludwig Lavater “We ought not without great cause to suspecte all spirities, and other apparitions.”

10 Our Beliefs


12 Angels, Demons, and Conjurors “And glutted now with learning's golden gifts, He surfeits upon cursed necromancy; Nothing so sweet as magic is to him, Which he prefers before his chiefest bliss: And this the man that in his study sits.” –Marlowe’s Faustus


14 Our Beliefs

15 Do you believe in magic?

16 Miracles and Predestination “We call predestination God's eternal decree, by which he determined with himself what he willed to become of each man.” --John Calvin

17 Our Beliefs


19 Charms image magic, amulets, relics, holy objects, charmed circles, weapon salve, symbols

20 Paracelsus and the Weapon Salve “Take of moss growing on the head of a thief who has been hanged and left in the air; of real mummy; of human blood, still warm – of each one ounce; of human suet, two ounces; of linseed oil, turpentine, and Armenian bole – of each two drachms. Mix all well in a mortar, and keep the salve in an oblong, narrow urn.”

21 John Dee, Physician to Queen Elizabeth “This most secret mystery is clearly and perfectly shown in our Monad by the hieroglyphic figure of Taurus, which is here represented, and by that of Mars…” “Oh, my God, how profound are these mysteries!”

22 Our Beliefs

23 Astrology and Numerology

24 Our Beliefs

25 Witches “The fearefull aboundinge at this time in this countrie, of these detestable slaves of the Devill, the Witches or enchanters, hath moved me (beloved reader) to dispatch in post, this following treatise of mine…to preasse thereby, so farre as I can, to resolve the doubting harts of many; both that such assaultes of Sathan are most certainly practized, and that the instrumentes thereof, merits most severely to be punished.” King James, Demonologie


27 “Magick is nothing else but the knowledge of the whole course of Nature. …..It openeth unto us the properties and qualities of hidden things, and it teacheth us by the agreement and disagreement of things, either so to sunder them, or else to lay them so together, as thereby we do strange works…. Wherefore, as many of you as come to behold Magick, must be persuaded that the works of Magick are nothing else but the works of Nature, whose dutiful hand-maid Magick is.” Giambattista della Porta, Natural Magick, 1658 “Magic comprises the most profound contemplation of the most secret things, their nature, power, quality, substance, and virtues, as well as the knowledge of their whole nature.” Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim, De Occulta Philosophia, 1533


29 Natural Wonders: Monsters and Medicinal Plants


31 “Æthiopia produces dragons, not so large as those of India, but still, twenty cubits in length. The only thing that surprises me is, how Juba came to believe that they have crests. ” –Pliny

32 Contemporary Connections

33 Our big questions Why is the occult so interesting to us? Why do we constantly try to represent it in art and literature? How do we represent it in art and literature, in particular, in drama and performance?


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