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Performing Dark Arts: a Cultural History of Conjuring

by Michael Mangan
£19.95   paperback  Intellect (2007)

Performing Dark Arts: a Cultural History of Conjuring by Michael Mangan Magic and conjuring inhabit the boundaries and the borderlands of performance. The conjuror's act of demonstrating the apparently impossible, the uncanny, the marvellous, or the grotesque challenges the spectator's sense of reality. It brings him or her up against their own assumptions about how the world works; at its most extreme, it asks the spectator to re-evaluate his or her sense of the limits of the human. Performing Dark Arts is an exploration of the paradox of the conjuror, the actor who pretends to be a magician. It aims to illuminate the history of conjuring by examining it in the context of performance studies, and to throw light on aspects of performance studies by testing them against the art of conjuring. The book examines not only the performances of individual magicians from Dedi to David Blaine, but also the broader cultural contexts in which their performances were received, and the meanings which they have attracted.

"This is an erudite book which wears its scholarship lightly and is a pleasure to read. Complex theoretical frameworks are introduced in ways that will make them accessible to the general reader, and the book's argument opens up new implications and applications for the study of magic as performance…"
(Roberta Mock, Department of Theatre and Performance, University of Plymouth)
"'Writing from the framework of the emerging field of Performance Studies, Michael Mangan investigates the ways in which different periods in Western history have defined the conjurer. Performing Dark Arts: A Cultural History of Conjuring looks at how the development of the modern stage magician occurred in the context of religious perceptions of miracles, priestly power, notions of the occult, the emergence of modern science and technology, and the contemporary movements of spirituality and performance art."
(Evelyn Hartogh, M/C Reviews)

ISBN 13: 9781841501499 | ISBN 10: 1841501492