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Paul Monod
President and Fellows of Middlebury College (Middlebury, VT 05753-6004)

Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars
Research Programs

$40,000 (approved)
$40,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2007 – 6/30/2008

The Occult in the British Enlightenment, 1650-1815

How did “the occult sciences” (astrology, alchemy, ritual magic) survive amidst an “age of reason” in late 17th-18th century Britain? As this study will show, the occult was linked to heterodoxy and religious speculation. It flourished in the turbulent 1650s, went into eclipse after the Glorious Revolution, then revived after 1760 under the influence of visionary sects, giving rise to magnetic cures and radical prophets. Emphasis will be placed here on the interactions of “learned” and “popular” magic, on the commercial marketing of the supernatural and on its wider cultural impact. The occult will emerge as an important alternative to the mainstream of Enlightenment, attractive to those on the margins of intellectual respectability.