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Durham University

Department of English Studies

Inventions of the Text Seminar Series

Inventions of the Text complements our Research Seminar series. Inventions is organised by a team of postgraduate researchers, and combines papers by academics from Durham and beyond with presentations by PhD students. Seminars run roughly every couple of weeks during term time, with around eight or nine events a year. After each seminar, attendees are welcome to socialise with the speaker(s) over dinner. They are generally for University staff and students, although sometimes open to the public.

Forthcoming Inventions of the Text Seminars

Inventions of the Text

Pythagoras, Palmistry and Pulse-Reading: The Centrality of Magic in Late Medieval Prognostic Medicine

23rd January 2020, 17:30 to 19:00, Seminar Room, Hallgarth House, Dr Joanne Edge (John Rylands Library)

An Inventions of the Text seminar, followed by drinks and dinner. All welcome.

What constituted 'magic' in later Middle Ages, and how did it relate to and overlap with 'science' and 'religion'? A key problem with definitions is that modern categories do not easily map onto the context in the Middle Ages; and so what counted as 'magic' would depend on who you asked. Condemned since the late Roman Empire, magic was seen as counter to Christian doctrine as it was thought to operate via the agency of demons. But in late medieval medical manuscripts, texts and devices that are decidedly magical or divinatory are often found with orthodox Hippocratic and Galenic material based on humoral theory. This paper will set out the manuscript evidence, and provide some possible explanations for, the non-displacement of the occult in the context of late medieval prognosis.
Thursday 23 January, 5.30pm • Seminar Room, Hallgarth House Followed by drinks & dinner. All attendees welcome.

Contact for more information about this event.

Related Links

Past Inventions of the Text Seminars