[Update] Chronicles and Grimoires: The Occult as Political Commentary

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ICMS Kalamazoo 2016

Whether seen in signs and portents, or read in grimoires or magic books, the occult in the premodern world is both marveled at and feared. A significant amount of the description of occult and sorcerous activity, however, also functions as political commentary, whether as direct criticism of secular current events or as a voice or conceptual space for the spiritual "other" in medieval society.

Some examples of these voices can be heard in the manuscript BN Ffr. 1553 that is the chronicle of Eustache le Moine (known as the Black Friar, ca. 1170-1217) who was a Benedictine who studied necromancy and the black arts and ultimately became a pirate; the popularity and repeated multi-language printings of the Clavicule of Solomon in Italy in the 1300's; the introductory and defensive letters in the German humanist scholar Agrippa's books on occult philosophy (c. 1533); the tempered criticism of Johan Weyer's De Praestigiis Daemonum (1563) or its opposite, Martin Del Rio's inflammatory Disquisitionum magicae (1608). Political commentary regarding the occult often tests the limits of scribal activity, and can lead to persecution and/or charges of treason or heresy. We welcome papers that explore this dangerous connection between the reception of the occult and political commentary or criticism.

Proposals (for presentations of no longer than 20 minutes) should be no longer than 400 words and must clearly indicate the significance, line of argument, principal texts and relation to existing scholarship (if possible). Email the proposal in the body of the message, a 50-word bio note, and a completed Participant Information form (http://www.wmich.edu/medieval/congress/submissions/index.html#PIF) to Dominique Hoche at dominique.hoche@westliberty.edu . Due September 15, 2015.
For general information about the 2016 Medieval Congress, visit: http://www.wmich.edu/medieval/congress/index.html.