History 4302. 01/5302.01:  Magic, Science, and the Occult from Antiquity to Newton

 

TR 9:25-10:40
Stabler Hall 408
Dr. Laura A. Smoller
office: Stabler Hall 604K
office hours:  M, 10-11, Tu, 2-3, and by appointment
telephone: 569-8389
email: lasmoller@ualr.edu
www.ualr.edu/lasmoller

This course explores the early history of humans' attempts to explain and control the cosmos, taking into account the real contributions made to early science by areas of inquiry now dismissed as magic or superstition, such as astrology, alchemy, and "natural magic."  One major theme of the course will be the continuing way in which societies have policed the boundary between what they define as "magic" and what they dub legitimate "science."   What is legitimate knowledge about nature, and who gets to define what counts as legitimate?  The course will end around 1700, with Newton and the so-called "Scientific Revolution," and the marginalization of astrology, alchemy and similar fields of inquiry as "pseudo-sciences" or popular error.

 


 

Date              

Topic

Reading

January 14

Introduction:  What is magic? What is science?

 

January 16

Approaches to the history of magic and science

Kieckhefer, Magic in the Middle Ages, Foreword, preface, and ch. 1

 

 

 

January 21

Magic and rationality in the ancient world

Kieckhefer, Magic in the Middle Ages, chapter 2 (pp. 19-33)

January 23

Discussion

Hippocrates (ER), Lucan (ER), Apuleius (ER), Theocritus (ER), Philostratus (ER)

 

 

 

January 28

The rise of Christianity

Kieckhefer, Magic in the Middle Ages, chapter 2 (pp. 33-42)

January 30

Neoplatonism, Christianity, and demons in late antiquity

Kieckhefer, Magic in the Middle Ages, chapter 3 (pp. 43-48)

 

 

 

February 4

Discussion

The Apocryphal Acts of Peter (ER)

February 6

No class

 

 

 

 

February 11

Science and magic in the early Middle Ages

Kieckhefer, Magic in the Middle Ages, chapter 4 (pp. 56-80)

February 13

Magic and Arabic science, I:  Astronomy and astrology

Adelard of Bath (ER), Roger Bacon (ER), Pierre d’Ailly (ER)

 

 

 

February 18

Magic and Arabic science, II: Alchemy, mineralogy, and medicine

Albertus Magnus (ER), Donum Dei (ER)

February 20

Discussion

Adelard of Bath (ER), Roger Bacon (ER), Albertus Magnus (ER), Pierre d'Ailly (ER), Donum Dei (ER)

 

 

 

February 25

Magic and learning at court and university

Kieckhefer, Magic in the Middle Ages, chapter 5 (all)

February 27

Discussion

Chrétien de Troyes, Cligès (ER), Chaucer, "Franklin's Tale" (ER)

 

 

 

March 4

Midterm exam

 

March 6

Sorcery, demonology, and forbidden magic

Kieckhefer, Magic in the Middle Ages, chapter 7 (all); Kieckhefer, Forbidden Rites (ER)

 

 

 

March 11

Witch trials and Renaissance magi

Kieckhefer, Magic in the Middle Ages, chapter 6 (pp. 140-50), chapter 8 (all); Ficino (ER), Trial of Suzanne Gaudry (ER)

March 13

Discussion

Ficino (ER); Kieckhefer, Forbidden Rites (ER); Trial of Suzanne Gaudry (ER)

 

 

 

March 18

The revolution in astronomy

Shapin, The Scientific Revolution, pp. 15-64 (this week and over break); Galileo (ER)

March 20

Discussion

Galileo (ER)

 

 

 

March 24-28

Spring Break

(Read Campanella and Bacon)

 

 

 

April 1

Collecting, museums, print, and secrets

(finish Shapin, The Scientific Revolution, pp. 15-64); Campanella, City of the Sun

April 3

Paracelsus, Bacon, and the revolution in method

Shapin, The Scientific Revolution, pp. 65-117 (this week and next); Bacon, New Atlantis

 

 

 

April 8

Discussion

Campanella, City of the Sun; Bacon, New Atlantis

April 10

The social setting of the new science

 

 

 

 

April 15

Astrology, magic, and civil disorder in the 16th and 17th centuries

(finish Shapin, The Scientific Revolution, pp. 65-117)

 

April 17

The attack on popular culture and the decline of magic?

Shapin, The Scientific Revolution, pp. 119-65 (this week and next)

 

 

 

April 22

Newton

Paper due.  Newton (ER)

April 24

Discussion

Browne (ER); Newton (ER)

 

 

 

April 29

Modernism and rationality

(finish Shapin, The Scientific Revolution, pp. 119-65)

May 1

Discussion

Shapin, The Scientific Revolution

 

 

Final exam (take-home):  Due Monday, May 12, by noon, in the History Department.


Books to purchase:

Richard Kieckhefer, Magic in the Middle Ages, revised edition (Cambridge University Press/Canto).  ISBN 0521785766
Steven Shapin, The Scientific Revolution (University of Chicago Press).  ISBN 0226750213
Francis Bacon, The New Atlantis/Tomasso Campanella, The City of the Sun (Dover).  ISBN 0486430820

Thomas Mayer, ed., The Trial of Galileo, 1612-1633 (University of Toronto Press).  ISBN 978-1-4426-0519-0 (optional)
Electronic Reserves:  Readings designated (ER) in the syllabus are linked through Blackboard.


Course requirements for undergraduate students:

In-class midterm exam (March 4)----20%
Take-home final exam (due May 12)----25%
Reading questions----20%
Participation in discussions----10%
Paper (8-10 pages, topics to be distributed, due April 22 in class)--25%

Reading assignments are due on the day they appear in the lecture schedule.  Reading questions are due on the day of the discussion on the pertinent materials.  Late work will be penalized 10% for each calendar day late.  I do not accept emailed assignments without prior arrangement and only under the most exigent of circumstances.  Attendance at and participation in disucssions is crucial.  Absence from four discussions will result in a failing grade for the course.  For the sake of accounting, three tardies will constitute one absence.

Course requirements for graduate students:

In-class midterm exam (March 4)----20%
Take-home final exam  (due May 12)----25%
Reading questions----20%
Participation in discussions----10%
Research paper (10-15 pages, on a topic to be chosen in consultation with the instructor, due April 22 in class)--25%

Reading assignments are due on the day they appear in the lecture schedule.  Reading questions are due on the day of the discussion on the pertinent materials.  Late work will be penalized 10% for each calendar day late.  I do not accept emailed assignments without prior arrangement and only under the most exigent of circumstances.  Attendance at and participation in disucssions is crucial.  Absence from four discussions will result in a failing grade for the course.  For the sake of accounting, three tardies will constitute one absence.

Grading scale: 

A=90-100%    B=80-89%     C=70-79%     D=60-69%     F=0-59%

In case of some mix-up, it is a good idea to save all returned work until you receive your grade at the end of the semester.

Learning objectives:  At the end of this course, students will be able to

·      Trace major developments in the history of western science and magic from the ancient world through Newton's Principia

·      Discuss the ways in which the shifting labels "science" and "magic" have been used to designate legitimate and illlegitimate knowledge about nature and the cosmos

·      Analyze and interpret primary sources in the history of magic and science

·      Explain the arguments of major secondary authors in the history of magic and science

·      Formulate an argument based on primary source evidence and express it clearly in written form

·      Use primary sources to support claims made orally and in writing

Make-up work: If you miss an exam and have a valid excuse, you may make up the exam by arrangement with the instructor. 

Students with disabilities:  Your success in this class is important to me, and it is the policy and practice of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to create inclusive learning environments consistent with federal and state law. If you have a documented disability (or need to have a disability documented), and need an accommodation, please contact me privately as soon as possible, so that we can discuss with the Disability Resource Center (DRC) how to meet your specific needs and the requirements of the course. The DRC offers resources and coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities. Reasonable accommodations are established through an interactive process among you, your instructor(s) and the DRC. Thus, if you have a disability, please contact me and/or the DRC, at 501-569-3143 (V/TTY) or 501-683-7629 (VP). For more information, please visit the DRC website at www.ualr.edu/disability.  

Classroom etiquette: Please turn off cell phones and beepers or set them to a silent alert.  In the rare event you must enter late or leave class early, please let me know in advance. 

Cheating and plagiarism: Cheating and plagiarism are serious offenses and will be treated as such. ("Plagiarism" means "to adopt and reproduce as one's own, to appropriate to one's use, and incorporate in one's own work without acknowledgment the ideas of others or passages from their writings and works." See Academic Integrity and Grievance Policy, Section VI, Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities and Behavior, Student Handbook. Copying directly from the textbook or an encyclopedia article without quotation marks or an identifying citation, for example, constitutes plagiarism.) Anyone who engages in such activities will receive no credit for that assignment and may in addition be turned over to the Academic Integrity and Grievance Committee for University disciplinary action, which may include separation from the University.

Copyright notice: Copyright © by Laura Smoller as to this syllabus and all lectures. Students and auditors are prohibited from selling notes during this course to (or being paid for taking notes by) any person or commercial firm without the express written permission of the professor teaching this course.  Students may tape lectures for their own study purposes, but students are prohibited from selling such tapes or making them available to other students in any manner.

Disclaimer: The instructor reserves the right to change topics and assignments on the syllabus at any point in the semester.