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dc.contributor.authorMarsh, Joshua Kyle
dc.description.abstractIn an early-modern context, magic was a dangerous topic. Even staged performances retained an element of potency. Toward the beginning of the 20th century, however, magic emerged from the dangerous connotations assigned by pre-modernist cultures and developed into an accepted type of performance. While supernatural aspects of religion have suffered from the inclusion of science and technology, stage magic is instead resilient, adapting to embrace technology rather than deteriorate from it. This dissertation explores how the relationship has fluctuated over the past 200 years, beginning with the initial shift prompted by the scientific revolution and concluding with an examination of the current transformation resulting from a diffusion of advanced technologies. How do audiences' diverse attitudes toward magic respond to evolving technologies and attitudes toward them? I focus on three distinct perception of magic: as a manifestation of supernatural force, as a trick with a rational yet unexplainable solution, and as converging with technological invention and innovation. Performances implying the use of a potent magic take advantage of an audience's desire to believe in supernatural forces and epitomize the beliefs held during the spiritualist and new age movements. Audiences perceiving these supernatural forces are perhaps oblivious to the performance itself, believing completely in their effectiveness. The trick occupies a middle ground, where audiences experience a performance as magical and yet, despite cynically knowing it's merely a trick, willingly suppress the need for an answer to the puzzle. These quasi-paradoxes both reinforce and deplete magic's potency. Performances with integration of technology both disable and empower magic, disposing of the supernatural component and the forced belief in the trick, yet retaining elements of both. Audiences encountering technology-as-magic bring with them some general knowledge of the performance's methods and therefore have fewer questions concerning agency or scientific plausibility. The intricacies of executing these technologies, however, often remain a mystery. The purpose of this project is to explore each of these three attitudes in depth: to see how they work, to explain them, and to connect them to their contexts.
dc.rightsOn Campus Only Until 2017-12-01
dc.subjectMagic History
dc.subjectMagic Tricks
dc.subjectNew Media
dc.subjectReception Theory
dc.subjectCognitive Science
dc.subjectFilm Studies
dc.titleIt works like magic
dc.title.alternativetechnology, stage magic, & performance
dc.description.departmentTheatre and Film Studies
dc.description.advisorDavid Z. Saltz
dc.description.committeeDavid Z. Saltz
dc.description.committeeFrances Teague
dc.description.committeeChristopher Sieving
dc.description.committeeChristopher Eaket
dc.description.committeeRonald Bogue

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