Repurposing Magic: A Colloquium

This one-day colloquium gathers people from diverse fields and practices to revisit the very idea of magic

This one-day colloquium gathers people from diverse fields and practices (history, visual arts, anthropology, literary studies, gender and sexuality studies, creative writing, philosophy) in order to revisit the very idea of magic. Join us as we explore, not the familiar magic of stage tricks and illusionism, nor the magic of some exotic rituals, nor even magic as it tends to be invoked in scholarly and speculative inquiry—i.e., as an object of investigation that is always, in the end, quaint, or cute, or embarrassing.

In a series of eight presentations, we will consider the magicality of everyday things. Employing different methods and drawing from a variety of archives and traditions, we will pursue magic as an active provocation of the familiar phenomena; as an irresistible happening that keeps popping back up even in the most austere discourses; as a salutary goad to attend again to causes and effects that escape predictive or absolute knowledge; as a gift to our perceptual lives; and as a relevant ornament to our being in the world and being political. Open to all. Come join the conversation!


10:00 – 10:30
Attendees are cordially invited to the brunch served in the Smart Museum lobby

10:30 – 10:35
Welcome and introductions

10:35 – 11:00
Carla Nappi, History, The University of British Columbia
“Magical History, A Lion’s Tail, and a Lock of Hair”

11:00 – 11:25
Ed Cohen, Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, Rutgers
“Appreciate Your Genius: Repurposing a Conceptual Persona”

11: 25 – 11:50
Judith Farquhar, Anthropology, University of Chicago
“Magical Realist Biopolitical Statecraft: Mo Yan’s Frog”

11:50 – 12:15
John Wilkinson, English, Committee on Creative Writing, University of Chicago
“The Archeology of Air”

12:15 – 12:40
Respondent: Caryn O’Connell, English, University of Chicago

12:40 – 2:00
Lunch break

2:00 – 2:25
Larisa Jasarevic, International Studies Program, University of Chicago
“Minding the Concrete: Shadows and Smoke of a Local Apiculture”

2:25 – 2:50
Marcello Schuster, Independent Scholar and Filmmaker, Mexico City, Mexico

2:50 – 3:15
William Mazzarella, Anthropology, University of Chicago
“The Mana of Mass Publicity”

3:15 – 3:40
Zachary Cahill, Department of Visual Arts, University of Chicago
“From Séance to Assembly: The Dark Arts of of Revolution and Glowing Bodies”

3:40 – 4:00
Respondent: Caryn O’Connell, English, University of Chicago

4:00 to 5:00 Reception

This event is co-sponsored by the Center for International Studies Norman Wait Harris Fund, the Committee on Chinese Studies, the International Studies Program, the Department of English Language and Literature, and the Franke Institute for the Humanities. 

Event Sponsors

© 2015 Center for International Studies