An Analysis of Keith Thomas's Religion and the Decline of Magic  book cover
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An Analysis of Keith Thomas's Religion and the Decline of Magic





ISBN 9781912127153
Published July 21, 2017 by Macat Library
100 Pages

 
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Book Description

Keith Thomas's classic study of all forms of popular belief has been influential for so long now that it is difficult to remember how revolutionary it seemed when it first appeared.

By publishing Religion and the Decline of Magic, Thomas became the first serious scholar to attempt to synthesize the full range of popular thought about the occult and the supernatural, studying its influence across Europe over several centuries. At root, his book can be seen as a superb exercise in problem-solving: one that actually established "magic" as a historical problem worthy of investigation. Thomas asked productive questions, not least challenging the prevailing assumption that folk belief was unworthy of serious scholarly attention, and his work usefully reframed the existing debate in much broader terms, allowing for more extensive exploration of correlations, not only between different sorts of popular belief, but also between popular belief and state religion. It was this that allowed Thomas to reach his famous conclusion that the advent of Protestantism – which drove out much of the "superstition" that characterised the Catholicism of the period – created a vacuum filled by other forms of belief; for example, Catholic priests had once blessed their crops, but Protestants refused to do so. That left farmers looking for other ways of ensuring a good harvest. It was this, Thomas argues, that explains the survival of what we now think of as "magic" at a time such beliefs might have been expected to decline – at least until science arose to offer alternative paradigms.

Table of Contents

Ways in to the Text 

Who is Keith Thomas? 

What does Religion and the Decline of Magic Say? 

Why does Religion and the Decline of Magic Matter?  

Section 1: Influences 

Module 1: The Author and the Historical Context 

Module 2: Academic Context 

Module 3: The Problem  

Module 4: The Author's Contribution 

Section 2: Ideas  

Module 5: Main Ideas  

Module 6: Secondary Ideas  

Module 7: Achievement  

Module 8: Place in the Author's Work 

Section 3: Impact 

Module 9: The First Responses 

Module 10: The Evolving Debate 

Module 11: Impact and Influence Today 

Module 12: Where Next?  

Glossary of Terms  

People Mentioned in the Text  

Works Cited

...
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Author(s)

Biography

Dr Simon Young holds a doctorate in Medieval History and teaches at the University of Florence. His research focuses folklore traditions in English and Irish Popular Literature.

Dr Helen Killick holds a doctorate in History from the University of York. She is currently a Leverhulm Early Career Fellow at the University of Reading, where her work focuses on medieval economic history.