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The book, the mirror, and the living dead : necromancy and the early modern period


The book, the mirror, and the living dead : necromancy and the early modern period

Lovitt, Sean (2009) The book, the mirror, and the living dead : necromancy and the early modern period. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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MR63081.pdf - Accepted Version


In early modem England, necromancy was a general term applied to the practice of black magic. Manuals for summoning demons, the dead, and other reprobate apparitions were available to the practitioners of this art, and descriptions of necromancy appeared in other genres ranging from theory to fiction. What the necromancer practiced in secret became a popular narrative made up of elements gleaned from the writings of supporters and detractors of magic. Orthodox Christians, Occultists, and skeptics all denounced the activities of necromancers by publishing descriptive accounts. These divergent bodies of literature inadvertently diffused a legend of the necromancer into public discourse. This thesis explores the curiosity and wonder that these narratives of necromancy provoked as they were staged in the theater. I examine Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus as the culmination of public concepts of necromancy and, in turn, I elucidate what this play has to say about the necromantic characteristics--specifically, taboo interests and excessive accumulation--of the surrounding culture. Likewise, I investigate the presence of necromancy in William Shakespeare's Hamlet in order to analyze the fantastic characteristics of the Ghost and its influence on Hamlet's actions in the play. The fantasy of necromancy--of delving into taboo subjects and bringing forth aberrant apparitions--materializes in drama, articulating curiosity and wonder as affects rather than as the technical instruments of epistemology.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > English
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Lovitt, Sean
Pagination:v, 119 leaves ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Thesis Supervisor(s):Evans, Meredith
ID Code:976589
Deposited By: Concordia University Library
Deposited On:22 Jan 2013 16:29
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:42
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