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ACADEMIC-STUDY-MAGIC  April 2012

ACADEMIC-STUDY-MAGIC April 2012

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Subject:

Re: Walking the Boundaries

From:

Ben McDonald <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Society for The Academic Study of Magic <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 24 Apr 2012 19:41:36 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Parts/Attachments

text/plain (191 lines)

Thanks Nick, yes, I also find academics generally to be curious and respectful of other positions. By "departmental factionalism" I only meant that mixture of red tape and the pragmatic need to have mastery of a supervised student's subject material, which can make it difficult for students, and presumably faculty, to come together as a scholarly body. Certainly I didn't mean to suggest any embedded intolerance. There are, of course, academics who still believe in the hermetic preservation of their discipline against outsiders, but nowadays this seems far from the norm.

All the best,

Ben

On Tue, 24 Apr 2012 19:25:49 +0100, Nicholas Campion <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>Hi Ben,
>
>Glad you said that because actually the factionalism I have encountered amongst academics is somewhat less than that I have found amongst astrologers, magicians, pagans, Christians and members of sundry political parties!
>
>All the best,
>
>Nick
>
>
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Society for The Academic Study of Magic [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Ben McDonald
>Sent: 24 April 2012 19:23
>To: [log in to unmask]
>Subject: Re: [ACADEMIC-STUDY-MAGIC] Walking the Boundaries
>
>Hi Nick,
>
>As an PhD candidate who is also fairly interdisciplinary, I didn't mean for that observation to come off as purely negative sniping... rather a reflection on some of the practical bureaucratic difficulties of being interdisciplinary, following on from Dave's own observations. In hindsight, I should have phrased it more sensitively. I am quite critical of the institution, but in part because the institution trained me to be so critical, so it's always with affection!
>
>I agree that factionalism is far from a strictly academic thing. I rather meant in the specific sense that the division between departments can sometimes get between us and the act of scholarship, so to speak. 
>
>Best wishes,
>
>Ben 
>
>On Tue, 24 Apr 2012 19:02:23 +0100, Nicholas Campion <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
>>Hi Ben,
>>
>>I don't think factionalism is a peculiar feature of the Academy. 
>>
>>Speaking as someone who is fairly interdisciplinary, I am confused as to why this lost for the Academic Study of Magic should include such periodic sniping at academia.
>>
>>Nick
>>
>>-----Original Message-----
>>From: Society for The Academic Study of Magic [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Ben McDonald
>>Sent: 24 April 2012 18:18
>>To: [log in to unmask]
>>Subject: Re: [ACADEMIC-STUDY-MAGIC] Walking the Boundaries
>>
>>I know a PhD student at a major Australian university who wanted to work with supervisors from different departments, her work being interdisciplinary. She was discouraged by her primary from doing so formally; it would be, she was told, "too much paperwork." Thus, all her dealings with faculty from the other department have to be done off the record, partly for reasons of bureaucracy and partly, I suspect, to maintain rigid disciplinary boundaries. After all, who knows what sort of nonsense they believe on the other side of campus?
>>
>>In light of the recent discussion, I'd suggest that the tendency towards departmental factionalism is one of the more unappealing products of the academy. Ivory tower within ivory towers, as it were!
>>
>>All the best,
>>
>>Ben
>> 
>>On Tue, 24 Apr 2012 19:18:21 +0300, Dr Dave Evans <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>
>>>Indeed. But there is also a more practical issue on straddling academic
>>>boundaries- if someone is, for example, doing a PhD on the economic history
>>>of pagan publishing (not outside the bounds of a possible project, an
>>>in-depth study of Llewellyn Ltd, perhaps) they will have to be
>>>administratively and physically housed under one of a history or business
>>>studies university department. That department pays for lead
>>>supervisor/advisor, and such costs as the student attending conferences,
>>>having a computer, maybe a photocopying account, library access etc, and
>>>that department bills the student for tuition fees.
>>>
>>>Interdisciplinary study as a methodology is not entirely a comfortable fit
>>>with the nuts and bolts ways that university departmental structure is put
>>>together and managed. Then when the doctorate is granted, it has to be
>>>counted for admin purposes as History *or* Economics, and each department
>>>will want a successful completer ticked off on their performance record,
>>>thus occasional bunfights ensue as to who the student 'belongs' to. Joint
>>>honours degrees (BA, BSc) such as Business + a Foreign Language also fall
>>>foul of this sometimes.
>>>
>>>Dave E
>>>
>>>On Tue, Apr 24, 2012 at 7:02 PM, Sue/Shya <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>>
>>>> **
>>>> Of course academic disciplinary boundaries are artificial constructs used
>>>> to study and analyze traditions grouped under that particular definition.
>>>> And of course where those boundaries are placed continue to expand and
>>>> contract as definitions are debated and evolve. Nothing new to anyone on
>>>> this list serve.
>>>>
>>>> This is indeed the case with Western Esotericism - from Faivre's form of
>>>> thought, Verluis's emphasis on gnosis, von Stuckrad's discourse of
>>>> methodology and higher knowledge to Hanegraaff's exploration of the Grand
>>>> Polemic Narrative - see Forbidden Knowledge: Anti-Esoteric Polemics and
>>>> Academic Research in Aries 2005, Vol 5#3. I haven't read his latest book -
>>>> trying to download it now - but sounds as though he expands on this.
>>>>
>>>> I think this approach is fruitful - I think it picks up on Magliocco's
>>>> comment that "Neo-Paganism and revival Witchcraft are esoteric, ecstatic
>>>> magical traditions whose roots in Western culture can be traced to ancient
>>>> times." This also accords with Ronald Hutton's contention that neo-pagan
>>>> witchcraft is part of the lineage of ceremonial magick.
>>>>
>>>> Working on a couple of papers right now arguing that perhaps neo-paganism
>>>> should come under the umbrella of Western Esotericism - how's that for a
>>>> contentious, turf-war topic?!
>>>>
>>>> Shya
>>>>
>>>> ----- Original Message -----
>>>> *From:* Ted Hand <[log in to unmask]>
>>>> *To:* [log in to unmask]
>>>> *Sent:* Monday, April 23, 2012 6:58 PM
>>>> *Subject:* Re: [ACADEMIC-STUDY-MAGIC] Walking the Boundaries
>>>>
>>>> I don't have any problem with Hanegraaff's scholarship,
>>>> but I also have issues with the category of Western
>>>> Esotericism. I am starting to think that it really isn't
>>>> that useful to worry about whether things are Western
>>>> Esoteric are not, and thus that the category of WE
>>>> in general isn't especially helpful in explaining this stuff
>>>> or more importantly, in figuring out the problems. I don't
>>>> buy various aspects of the narrative that links the various
>>>> currents that get roped into WE; seems like it's just a
>>>> collection of stuff that scholars of WE like with various
>>>> broad and otherwise problematic common features. But
>>>> I'm very much looking forward to his new one. His work
>>>> on my renaissance magic guys is usually quite good.
>>>>
>>>> On Mon, Apr 23, 2012 at 5:49 PM, Noah Gardiner <[log in to unmask]>wrote:
>>>>
>>>>> I have my complaints about Hanegraaff and the mantle of 'Western
>>>>> esotericism' of which he's become the leading spokesperson, particularly
>>>>> with regard to questions like, 'Why is Christian Kabbalah Western-esoteric
>>>>> but Jewish Kabbalah isn't?', 'Why are medieval magical traditions (European
>>>>> and otherwise) excluded from the Western-esoteric?', etc. I have to say,
>>>>> however, that, as of about halfway through, I'm really impressed by his
>>>>> newest book, _Esotericism and the Academy_. In fact it's quite pertinent to
>>>>> the academic/practitioner kerfuffles that always erupt on this list,
>>>>> insofar as he's looking at the history of ways that 'respectable' modern
>>>>> Western knowledge has been constructed in contradistinction to 'esoteric'
>>>>> knowledge. Also pertinent to the most recent kerfuffle, I think it's a
>>>>> great example of modern academia's occasional ability to self-deconstruct
>>>>> in fruitful ways. I'm curious if anyone else has had a chance to look at it.
>>>>>
>>>>> - Noah
>>>>>
>>>>> Noah Gardiner
>>>>> Doctoral candidate, Dept. of Near Eastern Studies
>>>>> University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> On 4/23/2012 7:56 PM, Sue/Shya wrote:
>>>>>
>>>>> I am always interested in academic writing that walks the boundaries
>>>>> between the academic and practitioner worlds, at the same time playing by
>>>>> the rules of both. Susan Greenwood's book The *Anthropology of Magic*has been mentioned. To this I would add Sabina Magliocco's
>>>>> *Witching Culture, *and Emma Wilby's *The Visions of Isobel Gowdie*. I
>>>>> found the latter a brilliant combination of scholarship and speculation
>>>>> based on sound academic scholarship, always acknowledging when speculation
>>>>> oversteps the bounds of evidence - but using it to drive the question of
>>>>> "why of the witch trials" - a breath of fresh air in a very well researched
>>>>> topic.
>>>>>
>>>>> I have not read Singing to the Plants, and have just added it to my "to
>>>>> read' list. Sounds fascinating.
>>>>>
>>>>> I am always puzzled by the bad press Wouter Hanegraaff' receives for
>>>>> his insistence on playing by the rules of the scholarly game. I don't think
>>>>> he is at all closed to different approaches, only approaches that are not
>>>>> founded in some type of scholarly rigour. Isn't that academia's
>>>>> contribution to knowledge?
>>>>> I would reference in particular "Altered States of Knowledge: The
>>>>> Attainment of Gnosis in the Hermetica"  published in the International
>>>>> Journal of the Platonic Tradition, 2008 Vol 2, pp 126-163
>>>>>
>>>>> Shya Young
>>>>> MA in Religious Studies and lecturer at the University of Alberta ;)
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> *****************************************
>>>>> "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear.
>>>>> Optimism is better than despair.
>>>>> So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we?ll change the world."
>>>>> Jack Layton: 1950-2011
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> --
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>
>>>

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