Thursday, August 12, 2010 Magic and the Supernatural

I recently found a great network that includes a series of fascinating conferences and research topics. The network is, and following is an upcoming conference:

Magic and the Supernatural
March 17-19, 2011
Prague, Czech Republic

Bewitched. I Dream of Jeannie. The Exorcist. Charmed. Buffy. Dr. Who. Dracula. Dark Shadows. Twilight and The Twilight Zone. Sookie Stackhouse and Bill Compton. Dresden Files. Harry Potter. The fascination and appeal of magic and supernatural entities pervades societies and cultures. The continuing appeal of these characters is a testimony to how they shape our daydreams and our nightmares, as well as how we yearn for something that is “more” or “beyond” what we can see-touch-taste-feel. Children still avoid stepping on cracks, lovers pluck petals from a daisy, cards are dealt and tea leaves read.

A belief in magic as a means of influencing the world seems to have been common in all cultures. Some of these beliefs crossed over into nascent religions, influencing rites and religious celebrations. Over time, religiously-based supernatural events (”miracles”) acquired their own flavour, separating themselves from standard magic. Some modern religions such as the Neopaganisms embrace connections to magic, while others retain only echoes of their distant origins.

This inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary project seeks to examine issues surrounding the role and use of magic in a wide variety of societies and cultures over the course of human history. People with access to magic or knowledge of the supernatural will also be examined.

Papers, presentations, reports and workshops are invited on issues on or broadly related to any of the following themes:

~ Magic as “paranormal,” anything alleged to exist that is not explainable by any present laws of science
~ the distinctions between “magic” and “religion” and “science”
~ Magical thinking and the equation of coincidence with causality
~ Folk magic and “traditional” systems of magic
~ “Magick” and “Wicca” as religious systems in modern society
~ Witchcraft in the European context
~ “Witchcraft” and animism in African or Asian contexts
~ Magic as illusion, stagecraft, sleight-of-hand
~ Magic in modern literature (ex. Harry Potter, Harry Dresden, the saga of Middle Earth, the Chronicles of Narnia, etc.) and in traditional literatures (folk or fairy tales, legends, mythologies, etc.)
~ Magic in art and the depiction of magical creatures, practices or practitioners
~ the associations of magic with the “monstrous” or “evil;” does one imply the presence of the other?
~ the portrayal of magic, magical creatures, and magical practices or practitioners on television and in film
~ the roles or uses of magic in video games, on-line communities, role-playing games, subcultural formations and identities
~ the similarities and differences of magical creatures across societies and time periods
~ the interplay of “magic” and “religion” as well as “science”
~ the “sciences” of demonology and angelology
~ the role of divination or prophecy in societies or religions
~ the use of “natural” vs. “supernatural” explanations for world events
~ Magic and the supernatural as coping mechanisms for individuals and societies

The Steering Group also welcomes the submission of pre-formed panel proposals. 300 word abstracts should be submitted by Friday 1st October 2010. All submissions are minimally double blind peer reviewed where appropriate. If an abstract is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper should be submitted by Friday 4th February 2011. Abstracts should be submitted simultaneously to the Organising Chairs; abstracts may be in Word, WordPerfect, or RTF formats with the following information and in this order:

a) author(s), b) affiliation, c) email address, d) title of abstract, e) body of abstract

Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using footnotes and any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline). We acknowledge receipt and answer to all paper proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.

You can learn more about the conference and submission information here.

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