Executive Summary

This funding would be used to support 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, for whom we are seeking IAS Visiting Fellow funding to perform at the Warwick Arts Centre. The Pedagogic Interventions funding from IATL would specifically be used to develop two events that would 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 would be 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. The projected overall budget for ‘Mesmer’ is estimated at £3000 which we are seeking from a range of funding sources including the IAS and RSSP through CADRE.