- This event has passed.
UM Frankel Center Event – Magic and its Malcontents: Historiography as Heresiology
November 11, 2021 @ 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Shaily Shashikant Patel, Virginia Tech
“Strange things circulate below our streets,” Michel de Certeau writes. For him, coherent historiographies elide incoherent realities and give the illusion of a past which can be tidily reconstructed. The study of “magic” in early Christian literature illustrates how such scholarly preference for coherence occludes ancient ambiguities. Prevailing methodologies emphasize the “constructedness” of magic, defining it as a polemical charge levied at theological outsiders. This methodology obtains in early Christian studies even as adjacent fields refine their ideas of ancient magic. Rather tellingly, this methodology also presupposes that theological insiders exist in our earliest sources.
In this talk, Dr. Shaily Patel, Virginia Tech, discuss how these polemical notions of “magic” make historians into heresiologists. Like our ancient counterparts, we dismiss what troubles the scholarly orthodoxy of nascent Christianity as opposed to magic. Perhaps we agree with de Certeau that history is never sure, but our methodologies yield the same illusory certainty adopted by heresiologists who helped ossify Christian orthodoxy. Ancient magic exposes our heresiological inclinations and forces us to contend with what lingers below our streets.
“A history that is never sure is not no history; rather, it is a history of possibility.”
Register here: https://myumi.ch/4pxv3