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Magic and Cultural Animation

Magic has a long history extending from the ancient period until today, with several distinct strands in the history of ideas, its relationship to religion, science and the enlightenment, and as a cultural artefact, that transcends performance, philosophy, anthropology, and modern forms of metaphysics and epistemology.  

For this research, we adopt a particular form of performance magic as a medium for communicating ideas, animating thoughts, and probing the concept of moral capability. We use magic as a metaphor that allows for significant touchpoints throughout the research project that relate to fundamental questions concerning free will, social justice, personal agency, pragmatism, doubt, and societal fragmentation.  

Using the ‘boundary objects’ deployed in the cultural animation exercises, as well as other objects and tools drawn from the tradition of performance magic, we explore a wide range of themes with our participants through the elements of surprise, empowerment, and disruptive demonstration.   

Co-Investigator, Professor Todd Landman is the Academic Magician, Associate of the Inner Magic Circle, Founder and Lifetime Honorary Member of the British Society of Mystery Entertainers, Member of the Society of American Magicians, Member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Performance Magic, and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.  


Albanese, C. (2007) A Republic of Mind and Spirit: A Cultural History of American Metaphysical Religion, New Haven: Yale University Press. 

Copenhaver, B. (2015) The Book of Magic: From Antiquity to the Enlightenment, London: Penguin. 

Daniel, N. (ed) (with Caveney, M., Jay, R., and Steinmeyer, J.) (2009) Magic: 1400s – 1950s, Cologne: Taschen. 

Frazier, J.G. (1994) The Golden Bough, Oxford: Oxford World Classics. 

Glucklich, A. (1997) The End of Magic, Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

Landman, T. (2014) The Magiculum, EyeCornerPress. 

Landman, T. (2020) The Magiculum II, Lulu Publishers.  

Styers, R. (2004) Making Magic: Religion, Magic, and Science in the Modern World, Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

Thomas, K. (1971) Religion and the Decline of Magic, London: Penguin. 

Warner, M. (2006) Phantasmagoria, Oxford: Oxford University Press.  

Warner, M. (2011) Stranger Magic, London: Chatto and Windus. 

Photos by Bobby Timonera,

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