Image of a Magical Text from the Inquisition Records, Cathedral Archives, Mdina, Malta © Cathedral Archives, Mdina

Magic: from the Inquisition to Harry Potter

Why has magic always fascinated people?

A Research Services research event
Date12 November 2015
Time19:00 to 20:30
PlaceExeter Community Centre, St David's Hill, Exeter

Who should attend?

Anyone is welcome to attend this open event which forms part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council's Being Human festival.

What is the event about?

Why are people fascinated by magic in so many times and places? Why do they do it and believe in it?  And how far does our modern image of magic, in fantasy novels like the Harry Potter series, draw on the historical reality?

This event will bring together a group of experts on magic in history and literature to debate these issues with questions and input from the audience. It will start with a project based in Exeter which focuses on Sellem Bin al-Sheikh Mansur, a Muslim slave in 17th century Malta.

Sellem was put on trial by the Inquisition for witchcraft and his trial record tells the fascinating story, never told before, of one man’s experiences with magic. It also prompts us to ask how far modern views of magic reflect the lives of real people in the past.   

The panel will bring together scholars with different perspectives, including Ronald Hutton, an expert on magic in the 17th century and in modern Britain who has often spoken about magic on television; Marion Gibson, a literature expert; and Dionisius Agius, the scholar who discovered Sellem’s case in the Maltese archives.


Please visit our Eventbrite page to register..

ProviderResearch Services
OrganizerDr Catherine Rider

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