Magic A Very Short Introduction

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Magic A Very Short Introduction

Author : Owen Davies
ISBN : 9780199588022
Genre : History
File Size : 67.95 MB
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A wide-ranging overview of how magic has been defined, understood and practiced over the millennia introduces it in today's world as a real force that helps people overcome misfortune, poverty and illness. By the author of Grimoires: A History of Magic Books. Original.
Category: History

Paganism A Very Short Introduction

Author : Owen Davies
ISBN : 9780191620010
Genre : Religion
File Size : 26.6 MB
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'Paganism' is an evocative word that, even today, conjures up deep-seated emotions and prejudices. Until recently, it was primarily a derogatory term used by Christians to describe the non-Christian cultures confronted and vanquished by their Churches. For some it evokes images of sacrifice and barbaric behaviour, while for others it symbolises a peace-loving, nature-worshipping spiritual relationship with the earth. This Very Short Introduction explores the meaning of paganism - through a chronological overview of the attitudes towards its practices and beliefs - from the ancient world through to the present day. Owen Davies largely looks at paganism through the eyes of the Christian world, and how, over the centuries, notions and representations of its nature were shaped by religious conflict, power struggles, colonialism, and scholarship. Despite the expansion of Christianity and Islam, Pagan cultures continue to exist around the world, whilst in the West new formations of paganism constitute one of the fastest-growing religions. Focussing on paganism in Europe, but exploring the nature of paganism globally, Davies looks at how Europeans discovered new cultures through colonial expansion, missionary work, and anthropological study. Contemporary social paganism can be a liberating and social force, and the idea of a global Pagan theology is now on the religious map. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Category: Religion

Magic A Very Short Introduction

Author : Owen Davies
ISBN : 9780191623882
Genre : Religion
File Size : 66.44 MB
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Defining 'magic' is a maddening task. Over the last century numerous philosophers, anthropologists, historians, and theologians have attempted to pin down its essential meaning, sometimes analysing it in such complex and abstruse depth that it all but loses its sense altogether. For this reason, many people often shy away from providing a detailed definition, assuming it is generally understood as the human control of supernatural forces. 'Magic' continues to pervade the popular imagination and idiom. People feel comfortable with its contemporary multiple meanings, unaware of the controversy, conflict, and debate its definition has caused over two and a half millennia. In common usage today 'magic' is uttered in reference to the supernatural, superstition, illusion, trickery, religious miracles, fantasies, and as a simple superlative. The literary confection known as 'magical realism' has considerable appeal and many modern scientists have ironically incorporated the word into their vocabulary, with their 'magic acid', 'magic bullets' and 'magic angles'. Since the so-called European Enlightenment magic has often been seen as a marker of primitivism, of a benighted earlier stage of human development. Yet across the modern globalized world hundreds of millions continue to resort to magic - and also to fear it. Magic provides explanations and remedies for those living in extreme poverty and without access to alternatives. In the industrial West, with its state welfare systems, religious fundamentalists decry the continued moral threat posed by magic. Under the guise of neo-Paganism, its practice has become a religion in itself. Magic continues to be a truly global issue. This Very Short Introduction does not attempt to provide a concluding definition of magic: it is beyond simple definition. Instead it explores the many ways in which magic, as an idea and a practice, has been understood and employed over the millennia. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Category: Religion

Superstition A Very Short Introduction

Author : Stuart Vyse
ISBN : 9780192551313
Genre : Social Science
File Size : 31.23 MB
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Do you touch wood for luck, or avoid hotel rooms on floor thirteen? Would you cross the path of a black cat, or step under a ladder? Is breaking a mirror just an expensive waste of glass, or something rather more sinister? Despite the dominance of science in today's world, superstitious beliefs - both traditional and new - remain surprisingly popular. A recent survey of adults in the United States found that 33 percent believed that finding a penny was good luck, and 23 percent believed that the number seven was lucky. Where did these superstitions come from, and why do they persist today? This Very Short Introduction explores the nature and surprising history of superstition from antiquity to the present. For two millennia, superstition was a label derisively applied to foreign religions and unacceptable religious practices, and its primary purpose was used to separate groups and assert religious and social authority. After the Enlightenment, the superstition label was still used to define groups, but the new dividing line was between reason and unreason. Today, despite our apparent sophistication and technological advances, superstitious belief and behaviour remain widespread, and highly educated people are not immune. Stuart Vyse takes an exciting look at the varieties of popular superstitious beliefs today and the psychological reasons behind their continued existence, as well as the likely future course of superstition in our increasingly connected world. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Category: Social Science

Bacteria A Very Short Introduction

Author : Sebastian G.B. Amyes
ISBN : 9780199578764
Genre : Science
File Size : 21.81 MB
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In this Very Short Introduction, Sebastian Amyes explores the nature of bacteria. As a fundamental branch of life, they inhabit every part of the Earth's surface. Amyes examines their origin and evolution, bacteria in the environment, and bacteria and disease, to demonstrate the fundamental role they play in our existence.
Category: Science

Witchcraft A Very Short Introduction

Author : Malcolm Gaskill
ISBN : 9780199236954
Genre : History
File Size : 43.45 MB
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Examines the history and origins of witchcraft, from pre-history to the present day, considering why it still features so heavily in our culture
Category: History

Egyptian Myth A Very Short Introduction

Author : Geraldine (Oriental Institute Pinch, Oxford University)
ISBN : 9780192803467
Genre : History
File Size : 72.19 MB
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This text explains the cultural and historical background to the fascinating and complex world of Egyptian myth, with each chapter dealing with a particular theme.
Category: History

Ritual

Author : Barry Stephenson
ISBN : 9780199943524
Genre : Social Science
File Size : 75.54 MB
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Ritual is part of what it means to be human. Like sports, music, and drama, ritual defines and enriches culture, putting those who practice it in touch with sources of value and meaning larger than themselves. Ritual is unavoidable, yet it holds a place in modern life that is decidedly ambiguous. What is ritual? What does it do? Is it useful? What are the various kinds of ritual? Is ritual tradition bound and conservative or innovative and transformational? Alongside description of a number of specific rites, this Very Short Introduction explores ritual from both theoretical and historical perspectives. Barry Stephenson focuses on the places where ritual touches everyday life: in politics and power; moments of transformation in the life cycle; as performance and embodiment. He also discusses the boundaries of ritual, and how and why certain behaviors have been studied as ritual while others have not. Stephenson shows how ritual is an important vehicle for group and identity formation; how it generates and transmits beliefs and values; how it can be used to exploit and oppress; and how it has served as a touchstone for thinking about cultural origins and historical change. Encompassing the breadth and depth of modern ritual studies, Barry Stephenson's Very Short Introduction also develops a narrative of ritual's place in social and cultural life. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Category: Social Science

The Devil A Very Short Introduction

Author : Darren Oldridge
ISBN : 9780199580996
Genre : Religion
File Size : 59.46 MB
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The Devil has fascinated writers and theologians since the time of the New Testament, and inspired many dramatic and haunting works of art. Today he remains a potent image in popular culture. The Devil: A Very Short Introduction presents an introduction to the Christian Devil through the history of ideas and the lives of real people.
Category: Religion

Nuclear Physics

Author : Frank Close
ISBN : 9780198718635
Genre : Science
File Size : 69.63 MB
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Frank Close describes the historical development of nuclear physics, our understanding of the nucleus, how nuclei form, and the applications of the field in medicine. Exploring key concepts, he shows how nuclear physics brings the physics of the stars to Earth.
Category: Science

A Supernatural War

Author : Owen Davies
ISBN : 9780198794554
Genre : History
File Size : 26.74 MB
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How widespread belief in fortune-telling, prophecies, spirits, magic, and protective talismans gripped the battlefields and home fronts of Europe during the First World War.
Category: History

Fairy Tale

Author : Marina Warner
ISBN : 9780199532155
Genre : Fiction
File Size : 35.42 MB
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From wicked queens, beautiful princesses, elves, monsters, and goblins, to giants, glass slippers, poisoned apples, magic keys, and mirrors, the characters and images of fairy tales have cast a spell over readers and audiences, both adults and children, for centuries. These fantastic stories have traveled across cultural borders, and been passed on from generation to generation, ever-changing, renewed with each re-telling. Few forms of literature have greater power to enchant us and rekindle our imagination than a fairy tale. But what is a fairy tale? Where do they come from and what do they mean? What do they try and communicate to us about morality, sexuality, and society? The range of fairy tales stretches across great distances and time; their history is entangled with folklore and myth, and their inspiration draws on ideas about nature and the supernatural, imagination and fantasy, psychoanalysis and feminism. In this Very Short Introduction, Marina Warner digs into a rich hoard of fairy tales in all their brilliant and fantastical variations, in order to define a genre and evaluate a literary form that keeps shifting through time and history. Drawing on a glittering array of examples, from classics such as Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, and The Sleeping Beauty, the Grimm Brothers' Hansel and Gretel, and Hans Andersen's The Little Mermaid, to modern-day realizations including Walt Disney's Snow White, Warner forms a persuasive case for fairy tale as a crucial repository of human understanding and culture. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Category: Fiction

Combinatorics

Author : Robin J. Wilson
ISBN : 9780198723493
Genre : Combinatorial analysis
File Size : 43.57 MB
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How many possible sudoku puzzles are there? In the lottery, what is the chance that two winning balls have consecutive numbers? Who invented Pascal's triangle? (it was not Pascal) Combinatorics, the branch of mathematics concerned with selecting, arranging, and listing or counting collections of objects, works to answer all these questions. Dating back some 3000 years, and initially consisting mainly of the study of permutations and combinations, its scope has broadened to include topics such as graph theory, partitions of numbers, block designs, design of codes, and latin squares. In this Very Short Introduction Robin Wilson gives an overview of the field and its applications in mathematics and computer theory, considering problems from the shortest routes covering certain stops to the minimum number of colours needed to colour a map with different colours for neighbouring countries. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Category: Combinatorial analysis

Film A Very Short Introduction

Author : Michael Wood
ISBN : 9780192803535
Genre : Art
File Size : 44.78 MB
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Offers a wealth of insight into the paradoxical nature of film, considering its role and impact on society in the 20th century as well as its future in the digital age. Original.
Category: Art

Social And Cultural Anthropology A Very Short Introduction

Author : John Monaghan
ISBN : 9780191578298
Genre : Social Science
File Size : 89.78 MB
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If you want to know what anthropology is, look at what anthropologists do. This Very Short Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology combines an accessible account of some of the disciplines guiding principles and methodology with abundant examples and illustrations of anthropologists at work. Peter Just and John Monaghan begin by discussing anthropologys most important contributions to modern thought: its investigation of culture as a distinctively human characteristic, its doctrine of cultural relativism, and its methodology of fieldwork and ethnography. They then examine specific ways in which social and cultural anthropology have advanced our understanding of human society and culture, drawing on examples from their own fieldwork. The book ends with an assessment of anthropologys present position, and a look forward to its likely future. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Category: Social Science

Branding A Very Short Introduction

Author : Robert Jones
ISBN : 9780198749912
Genre : Business & Economics
File Size : 49.17 MB
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In this 'Very Short Introduction' Robert Jones discusses the rising omnipresence of brands, and analyses how they work their magic. He considers the incredible potency of brands as a commercial, social, and cultural force, and looks at the many different kinds of brands that exist - from products, services, and artistic properties, to companies, charities, sports clubs, and political parties. Defining what we mean by the word 'brand', he explores both the positive and negative aspects of brands. Finally Jones considers the business of branding, and asks whether the idea of brands and branding is starting to decline, or whether it has a long future ahead.
Category: Business & Economics

Islamic History A Very Short Introduction

Author : Adam J. Silverstein
ISBN : 9780191609343
Genre : Religion
File Size : 78.92 MB
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Does history matter? This book argues not that history matters, but that Islamic history does. This Very Short Introduction introduces the story of Islamic history; the controversies surrounding its study; and the significance that it holds - for Muslims and for non-Muslims alike. Opening with a lucid overview of the rise and spread of Islam, from the seventh to twenty first century, the book charts the evolution of what was originally a small, localised community of believers into an international religion with over a billion adherents. Chapters are also dedicated to the peoples - Arabs, Persians, and Turks - who shaped Islamic history, and to three representative institutions - the mosque, jihad, and the caliphate - that highlight Islam's diversity over time. Finally, the roles that Islamic history has played in both religious and political contexts are analysed, while stressing the unique status that history enjoys amongst Muslims, especially compared to its lowly place in Western societies where history is often seen as little more than something that is not to be repeated. Some of the questions that will be answered are: · How did Islam arise from the obscurity of seventh century Arabia to the headlines of twenty first century media? · How do we know what we claim to know about Islam's rise and development? · Why does any of this matter, either to Muslims or to non-Muslims? ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Category: Religion

America Bewitched

Author : Owen Davies
ISBN : 9780191625152
Genre : History
File Size : 61.5 MB
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America Bewitched is the first major history of witchcraft in America - from the Salem witch trials of 1692 to the present day. The infamous Salem trials are etched into the consciousness of modern America, the human toll a reminder of the dangers of intolerance and persecution. The refrain 'Remember Salem!' was invoked frequently over the ensuing centuries. As time passed, the trials became a milepost measuring the distance America had progressed from its colonial past, its victims now the righteous and their persecutors the shamed. Yet the story of witchcraft did not end as the American Enlightenment dawned - a new, long, and chilling chapter was about to begin. Witchcraft after Salem was not just a story of fire-side tales, legends, and superstitions: it continued to be a matter of life and death, souring the American dream for many. We know of more people killed as witches between 1692 and the 1950s than were executed before it. Witches were part of the story of the decimation of the Native Americans, the experience of slavery and emancipation, and the immigrant experience; they were embedded in the religious and social history of the country. Yet the history of American witchcraft between the eighteenth and the twentieth century also tells a less traumatic story, one that shows how different cultures interacted and shaped each other's languages and beliefs. This is therefore much more than the tale of one persecuted community: it opens a fascinating window on the fears, prejudices, hopes, and dreams of the American people as their country rose from colony to superpower.
Category: History

Myth

Author : Robert Alan Segal
ISBN : 9780198724704
Genre : Religion
File Size : 89.8 MB
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This title introduces a wide array of approaches to understanding myth from varied disciplines. It uses the famous ancient myth of Adonis to analyse the ideas and individual approaches and theories of theorists such as Sigmund Freud, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Albert Camus, and Roland Barthes. This new edition considers the interactions of myth theory with cognitive science, the implications of the myth of Gaia, and the differences between story-telling and myth, as well as the future study of myth.
Category: Religion