Look for the catalog of 2020-21IntroSems to roll out here in August.
Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students
How to Create A Ghost: Theater, Magic, and Technology
How do you conjure a ghost? Fly a bird? Make a person disappear? And why? What is the appeal of magic, illusions, and technological tricks? This course will explore the history of magic through its theatrical history, exploring important relationships between culture, technological innovation, and illusion-making. From traps to lifts to sugar glass props, the stage has absorbed and utilized technological and scientific innovations to create its illusions, narratives, and stories. Techniques of magic and stagecraft have been used since the 16th century to imagine other worlds. In creating these illusions, the theatre also negotiated with emerging scientific theories and concepts. We will ask: What relationship does magic and theatre have to the stories we tell? What contribution did technological innovations have on illusion making? How did theatre makers develop and innovate using technological and scientific theories? What role does technological aesthetics play in understanding human culture? Together, we will explore early writing about performance magic, alchemy, sleight of hand, and theatrical stagecraft. We will read across diverse practices of magic and theatre across the globe, exploring the relationship of magic, culture, and performance. We will read treatises, novels, and plays that explore the nature and legacy of magic. The course will include discussion, performance exercises, and hands-on activities. At the end of the seminar, students will be able to recognize and discuss historical texts and relate cultural artifacts (plays and novels) to major themes (magic and illusion). The course includes work and writing from authors with diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, and orientations. All are welcome!