TitlePlaying with Providence and prescience
NameDasgupta, Anannya (author), Coiro, Ann (chair), Leavo, Ron (internal member), Bartels, Emily (internal member), Marchitello, Howard (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
SubjectLiteratures in English,
Magic in literature,
English drama—17th century
DescriptionMy dissertation interrogates the a priori narrative of decline that informs the study of early modern magic. In recent years, a number of studies have reclaimed magic from its long relegated location of obscurity and irrelevance to early modernity. In spite of this surge of interest, magic continues to be seen as eccentric in the least and as abstraction at most. What is still missing from early modern studies is the sense that magic was as prevalent a discourse in the seventeenth century as science is to the twentieth. Recent historical and historicist work on early modern science invariably make cautious distinctions between early modern science and current day scientific discourse in a salutary nod to early modern magic. In my work I argue for the necessity of a more prominent discussion of magic as magic: as literal and persistent systems of knowledge and praxis that animated social and intellectual spaces by engaging and resisting systematic suppression. Such a reading of magic in dramatic works of canonical English authors as Marlowe, Shakespeare, Jonson and Milton reveals very different stakes for both magic and early modernity. The magic in Doctor Faustus is embedded in Christian theodicy; Marlowe uses the Faustian pact with the devil to allude to traditions of knowledge outside Judeo-Christianity and subverts the cautionary tale by making it a tragic play. Shakespeare’s The Tempest narrates a shift from demonic magic to the magic of theatrical mechanics and leaves the spectators with a less settled conclusion than is usually read in the play. Given the shifting parameters of magical practice, the credibility of magic is subject to considerable scrutiny. Such a scrutiny of the socio-economics of belief is motivated by fraudulent magic in The Alchemist. The dissertation concludes with the aesthetic synthesis of Christian and magical thought in Milton’s A Masque at Ludlow Castle.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references
Noteby Anannya Dasgupta
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.