History 4302. 01/5302.01

Magic, Science, and the Occult from Antiquity to Newton

 

MWF 11-11:50
Stabler Hall 408
Dr. Laura A. Smoller
office: Stabler Hall 604K
office hours:  Wednesday, 3-4; Friday, 2:30-3:30, 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

August 20

Introduction:  What is magic? What is science?

 

 

 

 

August 23

Approaches to the history of science and magic

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

August 25

Science before the Greeks

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

August 27

Greek science

 

 

 

 

August 30

Magic and rationality in the ancient world

 

September 1

Discussion

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

September 3

The rise of Christianity

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

 

 

 

September 6

No class:  Labor Day Holiday

 

September 8

Neoplatonism and demons in late antiquity

 

September 10

The triumph of Christianity and its effects on magic and science

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

 

 

 

September 13

Discussion

The Apocryphal Acts of Peter (ER)

September 15

The rise of magic in the early Middle Ages?

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

September 17

Science in the early Middle Ages

 

 

 

 

September 20

The twelfth-century discovery of nature

 

September 22

Discussion

Adelard of Bath (ER)

September 24

Magic and Arabic science, I:  Astronomy and astrology

 

 

 

 

September 27

Magic and Arabic science, II: Alchemy and mineralogy

 

September 29

Discussion

Albertus Magnus (ER), Pierre d'Ailly (ER), Donum Dei (ER)

October 1

No class

 

 

 

 

October 4

Magic and Arabic science, III:  Healing

 

October 6

Magic and learning at court

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

October 8

Discussion

Chrétien de Troyes, Cligès; Chaucer, "Franklin's Tale"

 

 

 

October 11

Sorcery, demonology, and forbidden magic

Kieckhefer, Magic in the Middle Ages, chapter 7 (all)

October 13

Magic, science, and the universities

 

October 15

Midterm exam

 

 

 

 

October 18

The rise of the witch trials

Kieckhefer, Magic in the Middle Ages, chapter 6 (pp. 140-50)

October 20

Renaissance Neoplatonic magic

Kieckhefer, Magic in the Middle Ages, chapter 8 (all)

October 22

Discussion

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

 

 

 

October 25

The occult, science, and the new print culture

 

October 27

The revolution in astronomy

Shapin, The Scientific Revolution, pp. 15-64 (this week and next)

October 29

Discussion

Galileo (ER)

 

 

 

November 1

Alchemy and the new Paracelsian science

 

November 3

Collecting, museums, and the new science

(finish Shapin, The Scientific Revolution, pp. 15-64)

November 5

Discussion

Campanella, City of the Sun

 

 

 

November 8

The revolution in method

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

November 10

The social setting of the new science

 

November 12

Discussion

Bacon, New Atlantis

 

 

 

November 15

Protestants, Catholics, and science in early modern Europe

 

November 17

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

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

November 19

The attack on popular culture

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

 

 

 

November 22

The decline of magic?

Paper due

November 24

Thanksgiving holiday

 

November 26

Thanksgiving holiday

 

 

 

 

November 29

Discussion

Browne (ER)

December 1

Newton

Newton (ER)

December 3

Modernism and rationality

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

 

 

 

December 6

Wrap-up and review

 

 

 

Final exam:  Friday, December 10, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.


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

Electronic Reserves (ER).  Readings designated (ER) in the syllabus are linked through Blackboard.


Course requirements for undergraduate students:

In-class midterm exam (October 15)----20%
Final exam  (December 10)----25%
Reading questions----20%
Participation in discussions----10%
Paper (8-10 pages, topics to be distributed, due November 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 (October 15)----20%
Final exam  (December 10)----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 November 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.

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:  It is the policy and practice of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to create inclusive learning environments.  If there are aspects of the instruction or design of this course that result in barriers to your inclusion or to accurate assessment of achievement--such as time-limited exams, inaccessible web content, or the use of non-captioned videos--please notify the instructor as soon as possible.  Students are also welcome to contact the Disability Resource Center, telephone 501-569-3143 (v/tty). For more information, visit the DRC website at http://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 Section VI, Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities and Behavior, Student Handbook, p. 39. 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.