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Polygons: Cultural Diversities and Intersections
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The Meanings of Magic
From the Bible to Buffalo Bill
Edited by Amy Wygant†
252 pages, bibliog., Index
ISBN 978-1-84545-178-3 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (December 2006)
"While there is not clear theme that binds such a divers range of essays together, the book's diversity is in fact one of its pleasures. It will lead students and scholars into areas they might not be familiar with or in which they previously had not interest." · MLR
The notion of "magic" is a current popular culture phenomenon. Harry Potter, the Lord of the Rings, the commercial glamour of the footballer and the pop idol surround us with their charisma, enchantment, and charm. But magic also exerts a terrifying political hold upon us: bin Laden's alleged March 28 e-mail message spoke of the attacks on America in form of "crushing its towers, disgracing its arrogance, undoing its magic." The nine scholars included in this volume consider the cultural power of magic, from early Christianity and the ancient Mediterranean to the curious film career of Buffalo Bill, focusing on topics such as Surrealism, France in the classical age, alchemy, and American fundamentalism, ranging from popular to elite magic, from theory to practice, from demonology to exoticism, from the magic of memory to the magic of the stage. As these essays show, magic defines the limit of both science and religion but as such remains indefinable.
Amy Wygant† lectures in early modern literature and culture at the University of Glasgow. She is a co-founder of Women in French in Scotland (WIFIS), and the editor of Seventeenth-Century French Studies. Her publications include Towards a Cultural Philology: Phædre and the Construction of "Racine" (Oxford: European Humanities Research Centre, 1999) as well as numerous articles on witchcraft and demonology, tragedy, opera, and psychoanalysis. Her current book-length project is Medea, Magic, and Modernity, and she is editing a special edition of the Forum for Modern Language Studies (2007) on "Stagecraft and Witchcraft".