Attend 50 Years of Keith Thomas’s “Religion and the Decline of Magic”

Received from Michelle Pfeffer (University of Oxford)

Event takes place online:  3rd September 2021, 14:00-17:45 (BST)

This year sees the 50th anniversary of Sir Keith Thomas’s masterpiece, Religion and the Decline of Magic (1971), one of the most significant British historical monographs of the last century. This short conference will celebrate and reflect on Thomas’s achievement as well as publicise new interdisciplinary work on the history of magic and religion.

Cover of an erly edition of Religion & The Decline of Magic by Keith Thomas. Cover is red with large white and smaller yellow text. The lower half of the cover consists of a woodcut style drawing of women in Early Modern dress gathered around a winged demonic figure whilst other winged demons fly over head

Cover of an early edition of Keith Thomas’ “Religion and the Decline of Magic” (Weidenfeld & N., 1971)

How to Register

The event will be live streamed from All Souls College, Oxford. Due to a limit on numbers as a result of the pandemic, only a small audience will be invited to attend the conference in-person. Please register here to receive a link to the live stream.

Registrations close 2 September 2021, 15:00 (BST).

Organised by Michelle Pfeffer (Magdalen College, University of Oxford), Jan Machielsen (Cardiff University), and Robin Briggs (All Souls College, University of Oxford)

Conference Schedule


Session 1: The Decline of Magic Today
Chair: Sir Noel Malcolm
Panellists: Robin Briggs, Chris Gosden, Michelle Pfeffer, Will Pooley, Laura Sangha, David Zeitlyn

Registrants will be sent the written papers for this roundtable a week in advance of the conference.


Session 2: The Legacy of Religion and the Decline of Magic
Chair: Paul Slack
Panellists: Michael Hunter, Alan Macfarlane, Jan Machielsen, Sophie Page, Alexandra Walsham


Session 3: Response from Sir Keith Thomas
Chair: Lyndal Roper

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