The Mary Renault Society

The Triangle Area of North Carolina

What Magic Means in the Modern World

Randall G. Styers - Making Magic Cover Detail

Randall G. Styers - Making Magic CoverWe have all been brought up to consider magic to be a non-modern form of superstition that contrasts with scientific rationality … and even with modern models of religion. This talk will explore the various ways the notion of “magic” has been used in thinking about what it means to be modern. To many people, magic has seemed to represent a way of thinking and behaving that’s completely unacceptable in the modern world, so it’s no surprise that magic has also been linked to various forms of sexual difference and non-conformity. What can thinking about magic tell us about life in the modern world?

Randall G. StyersOur returning presenter, Dr. Randall Styers, is Bowman and Gordon Gray Distinguished Associate Professor of Religious Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill. With degrees from Duke University, Yale Divinity School, and Yale Law School, he taught for four years on the theology faculty at Union Theological Seminary in New York before joining the faculty at UNC. Dr. Styers’ research and teaching focus on religion in modern Western culture, including critical approaches to the study of religion, religion and gender, and religion in American law and politics. He is also the author of Making Magic: Religion, Magic, and Science in the Modern World (Oxford University Press, 2004). Does your life mirror “dominant Western notions of appropriate religious piety, legitimate scientific rationality, and orderly social relations”? Join us for an exploration.

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