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Mesmer: Enchantment, Treachery, Belief

This project supports an interdisciplinary collaborative effort by researchers in Theatre Studies and Modern Languages to develop a series of events exploring the themes of enchantment, illusion and belief. We are interested in asking the following questions: how do notions of magic and illusion connect with political narratives? How can performance magic’s influence be traced in other cultural practices? At the moment this series is provisionally titled ‘Mesmer’, a deliberately provocative, ambivalent term which aims to introduce a frame of intellectual wonder while acknowledging the deception that is inherently a part of its practice, blurring the line between reality and fiction, belief and disbelief. The events will be based around the visit of the highly acclaimed mentalist Mariano Tomatis, performance at Warwick Arts Centre. IATL support specifically enables the development of two events that interrogate the themes of performance magic- a performance-lecture given by the President of Leamington and Warwick Magic Society on these themes, and a World Café symposium to facilitate conversation and the dissemination of ideas, more details on these events can be found in the outline below.

These events are open to the entire research community at Warwick, and publicity would be especially directed towards PGRs, providing venues for both students and faculty to develop and enrich their ideas on these themes and open up further opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration, and particularly of an AHRC bid that Dr Camilletti is currently exploring. As a blend of art and science, theatricality and psychology, mentalism is an ideal way to bridge several disciplinary domains; not only the applicants’ backgrounds of literary theory and performance, but psychology, neurosciences, film and television, media and journalism

‘Mesmer’ will take place over a week in May, provisionally the week beginning the 8th. It will be a festival-style series, with events spread throughout the week to ensure accessibility and provide a broad appeal.

Liz Turner is a third-year PhD candidate in the department of Theatre and Performance Studies. She is currently writing her thesis on performance magic on mediation, and teaches on the first-year module Performance Analysis.