Emily Selove and Matt Melvin-Koushki on Two New Postgraduate Programmes in Magic

Let’s say you want to study magic – in the broadest-possible construal of the term – at postgraduate level. You now have two completely new options to the highest academic standard, one underway already in the 2023-24 academic year, and one kicking off 2024-25.

At the University of South Carolina there is now a fully-funded (!) two-year History MA in Magic and Occult Science, with the first cohort already starting this August. Applicants may currently choose either the Global History or the History of Science and Technology track, but area of focus is wide open, and tuition and stipend funding is guaranteed through Teaching Assistantships in the department. At the University of Exeter the Magic and Esotericism Group has blossomed into a one-year interdisciplinary MA programme in Magic and Occult Sciences starting September 2024; this one is pursued  under the ægis of the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies, with an option for writing the dissertation through the Drama Department. Here’s what the BBC (missing the point) says about it. Here’s what the New York Times (spectacularly missing the point) says about it. Both programmes have specific strengths based on the range of talent involved at each university, but, best of all, the plan is to develop them into partner programmes, with the possibility of trans-Atlantic collaborations built in.

In this interview we hear about each programme, its particularities, and so on; we then discuss ways in which the programmes are set to interact with each other; finally, we discuss the study of magic more generally vis à vis the humanities, artificial intelligence, the decolonisation of knowledge, human and non-human relations, the weird, animism, panpsychism, physics, neuroscience, psychedelics, and a host of other themes.

Want to apply?

  • For Exeter, the application link is now live.
  • for South Carolina, contact Prof Melvin-Koushki directly via his faculty page (application deadline for next year is in December this year).

Download Emily Selove and Matt Melvin-Koushki on Magic in the Academy

Interview Bio:

Emily Selove is Associate Professor in Mediæval Arabic Language and Literature at the University of Exeter and convener of the University of Exeter’s Centre for Magic and Esotericism.

Matthew Melvin-Koushki is Associate Professor of Islamic History at the University of South Carolina, and current president of the Societas Magica, the foremost scholarly organisation promoting the academic study of magic.

Works Cited in this Episode:

Erik Davis. High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies. Strange Attractor Press and MIT Press, London and Cambridge, MA, 2019.

Jeffrey J. Kripal. The Superhumanities: Historical Precedents, Moral Objections, New Realities. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL, 2022.

Keywords: Academe, Aḥmad al-Būnī, Animism, Geomancy, Islamicate Magic, Kabbala, Lettrism, Occult Sciences, Picatrix