50 Years of Keith Thomas’s Religion and the Decline of Magic, 3 September 2021

3 September 2021, 14:00-17:45 (BST)

This year sees the 50th anniversary of Sir Keith Thomas’s masterpiece, Religion and the Decline of Magic (1971), one of the most significant British historical monographs of the last century. This short conference will celebrate and reflect on Thomas’s achievement as well as publicise new interdisciplinary work on the history of magic and religion.

The event will be live streamed from All Souls College, Oxford. Due to a limit on numbers as a result of the pandemic, only a small audience will be invited to attend the conference in-person. Please register below to receive a link to the live stream.

Registrations close 2 September 2021, 15:00 (BST). Please register here.

Organised by Michelle Pfeffer (Magdalen College, University of Oxford), Jan Machielsen (Cardiff University), and Robin Briggs (All Souls College, University of Oxford)

Supported by All Souls College, the Oxford History Faculty, and the Past & Present Society.

Conference Schedule


Session 1: The Decline of Magic Today
Chair: Sir Noel Malcolm
Panellists: Robin Briggs, Chris Gosden, Michelle Pfeffer, Will Pooley, Laura Sangha, David Zeitlyn

Registrants will be sent the written papers for this roundtable a week in advance of the conference.


Session 2: The Legacy of Religion and the Decline of Magic
Chair: Paul Slack
Panellists: Michael Hunter, Alan Macfarlane, Jan Machielsen, Sophie Page, Alexandra Walsham


Session 3: Response from Sir Keith Thomas

(Images from The Folio Society’s 2012 edition of Religion and the Decline of Magic, illustrated by Grady McFerrin)

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