299: Master of Magic

299: Master of Magic

Brain Junk
Brain Junk
299: Master of Magic

We might quit Brain Junk and run off to the University of Exeter for their brand new Masters program in MAGIC. Not Hogwarts (darn) but you’d be studying the role of magic in society. Listen to our podcast while you apply!!!!

Show Notes:

University of Exeter Magic and Occult Science MA

NPR interview with Prof. Sajjad Rizvi

Fun book recommendation (that is not for young kids): The Magicians

A second fun book rec because Trace cannot be stopped: The Lefthanded Booksellers of London


[00:00:02] Speaker A: Welcome to Brain Junk. I’m Trace Kerr.

[00:00:05] Speaker B: And I’m Amy Barton. And this is everything you never knew you wanted to know about getting a master’s degree in magic and occult science.

[00:00:17] Speaker A: Oh, this is. Okay, I’m going to shut up. You start talking. I’m interested. Let’s go.

[00:00:22] Speaker B: Okay. This caught my eye and I’m like, I would like to talk with trace about how we could actually have a degree in magic and magical things and all because trace and I both, I think you a little bit more than me, love that magical world and books are magical to begin with. But then that just magic within books as part of the plot is completely delightful. And I thought, oh my gosh, we can talk about that. It’s going to be great.

[00:00:50] Speaker A: Yes. And then just the weird and the odd and the things where you’re like, did I see that out of the corner of my eye? Is this, you know, magic being a concept?

[00:00:59] Speaker B: Yes, exactly.

So you have to go to the University of Exeter in England.

[00:01:05] Speaker A: Fancy this.

[00:01:07] Speaker B: But it is a master’s degree. It does have parameters. It’s housed in their Arabic and Islamic studies department, which I think is really interesting and not Eurocentric of them and acknowledges the age of our world and that magic is ancient, ancient, ancient this. It’s pretty much always existed with people because there’s things we couldn’t explain.

So I like that it acknowledges that because we’re always going to come back around to Europe. Don’t worry, we’re going to get back there. But we are going to get to Merlin. But we don’t need to start with Merlin.

[00:01:40] Speaker A: No.

[00:01:41] Speaker B: And just a quick definition for those of you that hear words but haven’t really thought you operationally use them but haven’t defined them. Esotericism is secret knowledge for a small group of people. Also describes mystical, spiritual or occult points of view. And occult is supernatural, mystical or magical beliefs, practices or phenomena. Just in case you need a refresher there.

[00:02:03] Speaker A: Esotericism, yes.

[00:02:06] Speaker B: That is part of the wording of their degree. So when people get a little bit oogie boogie about magic and the occult and religion comes into play, they’re kind of hand in glove. They are historically. So I just thought it’s worth defining those things in case you’re like, I’m not talking about converting over to the dark side. Although of course there’s always that somebody is going to use magic for evil.

[00:02:32] Speaker A: Yeah.

[00:02:33] Speaker B: But let’s talk about the educational background first. Exeter was founded in 1855 by Sir Stafford Northcott. It is such a good name and he started a school of arts. He envisioned that as a cultural center for the west of England, but it was a slow roll getting to what they are today. And so 1955 was when full university status was achieved. I might be more excited about that than other people because part of my work is sort of knowing things about my university.

Thank you for joining me in that geek out. We’re going to have a few more stats because that’s how I roll. Their total enrollment across all their campuses, which they have partnerships in a lot of places, is 29,000. So you’ll be in good stead with many people, takes about a year to two years. If you do full time, you can do this in a year at their Stratham campus. So you’ve got to go if you want to do this in one year. It does look like there’s some online options if you’re looking at that. And what you’ll be doing is building interdisciplinary expertise while exploring your specific interests. This is so university jargony. The important things is that there’s a long and diverse history of esotericism, witchcraft, ritual, magic, occult science and all the related things. And so they have some research inspired teaching, which I think is very fun too, that there is possibly some experiential pieces to that and some researching.

[00:03:54] Speaker A: Okay, so I’m reading the core module.

[00:03:58] Speaker B: Oh yes.

[00:04:00] Speaker A: Sorry, Chas. I’m leaving you to go to college because it’s like magic in Greece and Rome, occult texts in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, history of witchcraft, magic and literature and folklore, deception and illusion and the history of science and medicine. Oh my gosh. Why are we even still talking? I apply.

[00:04:18] Speaker B: Don’t you want to tell people? I study at the center for Magic and Esotericism where we do monthly meetings and local field trips and an owl brought me my acceptance letter.

[00:04:29] Speaker B: Yeah, exactly.

And they do talk about magical creatures and that history of how those things like dragons. There is a section on dragons. How can you resist? Really?

[00:04:42] Speaker A: Yeah.

[00:04:43] Speaker B: So how much is it? You ask me to get into their first year of their program, which is this coming fall, UK fees to live. If you live there, it’s 12,000 pounds full time, 6000 pounds part time, which actually doesn’t seem terrible. And because I love them. Because all of us in the university want you to know what can you do with this education? How is this benefiting you practically?

This master’s degree can lead you to a diverse range of careers. They say teaching, counseling, mentoring, heritage and museum work I think is maybe the highest work in libraries, tourism, art, organizations, publishing, social justice. I actually laughed at first. And then I’m like, actually, no, because so much of magic is a way to handle an injustice, an uncomfortableness. When you read about it, magic is both perpetrating those things and rescuing us from those things many times or explaining the unexplainable uncomfortable. So I thought that is interesting. Well, yeah.

[00:05:43] Speaker A: And especially if they’re looking at different cultures ways of looking at the unexplained and how we’ve tried to explain it and then having a larger worldview because it’s not just Christianity, it’s all these different kind of folk ways and. Yeah, no, I think the diversity of being able to sit down and talk with somebody about their own thoughts and feelings and interests.


[00:06:10] Speaker B: So there’s a great NPR interview about this with Dr. Sajjad Rizvi, who I think you could take his course if you signed up and went to Exeter. And he talks about that very thing, the role of magic in society and that the hidden arts and the way that people see the world and try to manipulate the world. And then the historical study of how magic and the occult and the esoteric was found in the world and you would get to talk about all of that and the eastern versus the western versus the Islamic. So fascinating. What else do I have? As previously mentioned, there is a dragon module about, and you would talk about trolls and fairies and the purpose. Why do they come up and what is their function, especially like dragons?

[00:06:55] Speaker A: I mean, the fact that we were going back to fossil record and then you’re digging up these things and we have no idea what they are, but, oh, my gosh, they’re gigantic and they have big teeth and they kind of look like reptiles. I mean, it makes sense that that’s how you’re going to explain it because, I mean, how are you going to explain this?

[00:07:10] Speaker B: Uh huh. Exactly. Chris wants to move and live international and maybe I should just exist. Yes. Let’s go move to Exeter. I’m going to get my.

[00:07:20] Speaker A: Yeah, but live there a year first so that you have residency, whatever it takes to be a resident. And then it’s, wow, can you. Okay, so fascinating topics aside, the people who are taking these courses must be fantastic, right?

[00:07:39] Speaker B: Yes.

[00:07:41] Speaker A: I can smell the patchouli.

[00:07:44] Speaker B: Oh, yeah. Yes. You’re going to get your hardcore library guy and person in there. But I would love to meet all of these students. Yeah.

[00:07:55] Speaker A: And I think that’s the importance of this kind of class. Right. Because you have to understand that while this does nothing for me, like maybe I, Amy not on the same level you are. This is clearly helping you interact with the world in a way that I am just not understanding. Right. And so you need to have that tolerance to not just go, wow, that’s nutty, but to go, okay, there’s a thing here. And all the different people that see the world in very different ways. It’s not my best skill to not be judgmental, as you can tell, but it’s fascinating to.

[00:08:29] Speaker B: So Dr. Rizvi talks about that a little bit in the interview, too, and how our modern world is all about marginalizing magic because we have different ways to explain things. The world is rational. We have a common understanding of things now. But this degree would be making, how do we make that magic rational? And every day, how does it relate to economics and science and technology? Oh, my gosh. Couldn’t you imagine, like, the science and tech of magic? Oh, that would be a good class. He talks about tying the everyday elements of life back to imagination. I’m sold.

[00:09:05] Speaker A: Yeah.

[00:09:06] Speaker B: What’s your financial aid package look like?

Yeah, somebody go do that, or somebody that is enrolled for this fall, tell us what your first semester schedule looks like. We’re excited.

[00:09:19] Speaker A: The cross section of just, it makes me think if you’ve ever read the book The Magicians by.

[00:09:27] Speaker B: I started it because it starts with them in school.

[00:09:29] Speaker A: Right.

[00:09:30] Speaker B: And then it transitions to the real world. Yes, I’ve read about half because it’s really two books worth in one book lengthwise for me.

Yeah, that one really does that. It was really interesting.

[00:09:41] Speaker A: Lev Grossman. Yeah, and it’s college, but these people can actually do magic. Like, they are actually magicians. And the way they are not just experiencing, like, wow, this is so magical and fun. It’s like, okay, you’re also in class, and you’re going to learn the proper ways to move your fingers so that you can do these spells. It’s making this fantastical thing very mundane in a very interesting way. And this is kind of flipping, probably flipping the other way. Like, here’s these very mundane people who are talking about these very fantastical things and how we’ve interacted with them throughout history. Ooh, so fascinating. Good job. Good job.

[00:10:20] Speaker B: Yeah, thanks. University of Exeter.

[00:10:25] Speaker A: Wow. Okay, well, we’re leaving the podcast. Amy and I are moving to England. Sorry, Chaz. Sorry, Chris. We’ll miss you.

[00:10:34] Speaker B: They can come along.

There’s project management to be done in England.

[00:10:39] Speaker A: That’s true. That’s true. Yeah. There’s some science to be done. Oh, wouldn’t that be funny?

I have my master’s degree in the occult and he is a scientist. Yeah.

[00:10:51] Speaker B: I believe that the folks at Exeter would say there’s a place for you in our program.

[00:10:55] Speaker A: Yeah, absolutely.

Wow. Well, if you decide to sign up and go, let us know. We want to know everything. Everything. And if you want to listen to other episodes, this is the last episode before our 300th episode.

Stay tuned. Next week, we’ve got a whole bunch of really cool stuff lined up. You’ll find out when you get there. You’ll just have to wait. Don’t be impatient, and Amy and I will catch you next time. Like I said, for the 300th episode, when we share more of everything you never knew you wanted to know. And I guarantee you will not be bored.

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