7-8 March 2014
In his famous work, The Golden Bough, James Frazer proposed that human societies evolved from cultures dependent on magic to ones subject to religion and finally to ones guided by science. Scholarship since Frazer has worked to destabilize and expand upon this tidy theory, pointing out that the distinctions between these three categories of belief are not always clear and that, in fact, all three tend to exist simultaneously within the same societies, schools, and even individuals. Nonetheless, Frazer's division of belief into magical, religious, and scientific modes of thought provides a useful lens for examining the ways that truth can be legitimated, and offers us a clear heuristic paradigm for exploration into human thought and behavior throughout history. Asking questions about magic, religion, and science offers us avenues into different epistemes and windows into the habitus of a group or society.
It is particularly useful for exploring the Middle Ages, which presents a wealth of examples in which the boundaries between magic, religion, and science are blurred, re-drawn, or entirely confounded. Indeed, the designation "medieval" across cultures often signifies a perceived interim period, between classical and modern thinking, in which multiple paradigms--magic and superstition, the hegemony of religion, and scientific exploration--coexist and compete for dominance. Investigating magic, religion, and science further within the context of the Middle Ages helps us not only to understand medieval thinking and culture more accurately and to see how the boundaries of magic, religion, and science were policed at the time, but to disturb modern assumptions about the operation of knowledge in these time periods.
Friday, 7 March
All events, unless otherwise specified, will take place in Wylie Hall 015.
2:00-3:00 p.m. — Registration
3:00-4:00 p.m. — Avenues Toward and Obstacles To Knowledge
Moderator: Jessica Leach, Indiana University, History
- “'The[y] Beleve on a Cake': Doubt, Sight and 'Misreading' in the Croxton Play of the Sacrament” Elizabeth Maffetone — MA/PhD candidate, Indiana University Department of English
- “153 Large Fish: Christian Paideia and Roman Concepts of the Sea in the Great Fishing Mosaic of Aquileia” Sean Tandy — PhD student, Indiana University Department of Classical Studies
4:15-5:45 p.m. — The Magic of the Body
Moderator: Erin Sweany, Indiana University, English
- “The Therapeutic function of animals in recovery from insanity” Emily O'Brock — MA Student, Indiana University Department of French and Italian
- “Beautiful Monsters: What Elves Teach about Anglo-Saxon Monstrosity” Jonathan Broussard — PhD Student, Louisiana State University Department of Communication Studies
- “Eyes, Skin, and Soul: Conceptions of the Body in Old Norse Shape-Shifter Narratives” Andrea Whitacre — PhD student, Indiana University Department of English
7:00-10:00 p.m. — Dinner and Reader's Circle
Federal Room, Indiana Memorial Union
Open to all Symposium attendees, RSVP required