Module Details

LT963-7-AU-CO: Writing Magic

Year: 2017/18
Department: Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Essex credit: 20
ECTS credit: 10
Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students: No
Full Year Module Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students for a Single Term: No
Outside Option: No

Supervisor: Dr Adrian May
Teaching Staff: Dr Adrian May
Contact details: LiFTS Taught Team - email Telephone 01206 872626

Module is taught during the following terms
Autumn Spring Summer

Module Description

Magic and writing have a close association, in terms of subject, structure and in the creation of literature itself. Magic is a 'pretended' or 'hidden principle', which uses the supernatural, or 'some occult controlling principle of nature' (OED). Magic therefore works in the way that mythic or metaphorical literary writing does, in seeking to reveal hidden connections and truths. Writers have always used the trickery of fictional invention, the hidden meanings of symbol, myth and psychology to achieve depth, as well as natural and supernatural motifs, both in their writing and in its process of invention.

The direct connection of myth to magic is then in the symbolic and in the supernatural. The natural and psychological processes myths suggest can also link myth to magic. Literary writing and myth are connected to magic again by their approach to the mysterious elements of creativity. Like myth and creativity, magic has change as a central concern.

The history of magic, both as a subject for writing, with its colourful characters and events, and in its use of ritual and archetype and with its themes of transformation, offers many possibilities for writing. The classes will range from discussions of the themes outlined above through different ways of relating magic to writing and creativity in theory and practical application.

Learning and Teaching Methods

Weekly 2-hour seminar


100 per cent Coursework Mark


One 5000-word essay


  • Much material will be supplied in photocopy, but two basic works are:
  • Levi, Eliphas. Magic. 1860. Dover: New York, 2006.
  • Wilson, Colin: The Occult. Mayflower: St. Albans, 1972.
  • Plus, please read the novel; Clarke, Lindsay. The Chemical Wedding. Cape: London, 1989.

Further information