Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Muhlenberg College 2009 Conference on Magic: A Review

Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, held The Theory and Art of Magic conference during March 19-21, 2009. It was part of a larger academic program directed by Lawrence Hass, a professor of philosophy and theatre. The meeting was neither a typical magic convention nor a fully academic conference, but rather an unusual hybrid.

Although the conference was primarily devoted to performance magic, several paranormal and religious issues were discussed. Some of those were relevant to trickster theory. As such, I believed it worthwhile to prepare a focused, non-comprehensive review of the conference.

My review is available at—

(37 KB PDF file)

I spotlight the work of Eugene Burger, one of the most profound thinkers in magic today. I also allude to the marginal and anti-structural nature of performance magic, a characteristic it shares with the paranormal. Extensive endnotes are included for readers with specialized academic interests.

A schedule of the conference program is on the Muhlenberg College website—


Photos from the conference can be found at Dexter Lane’s website—


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