Magic Or Medicine: Medieval Mysteries


Have you ever wanted to discover a long-lost magic spell or incantation? Well, now is your chance! Experts from the Newberry Library in Chicago discuss how you can read and even help decipher unique medieval manuscripts from the comfort of your own home. They also take a closer look at how understanding magic in the Middle Ages can help us understand our world better.

This week’s guests include: Jill Gage, Custodian of the John M. Wing Foundation on the History of Printing and Bibliographer for British Literature and History; Christopher Fletcher, Program Assistant in the Renaissance Center; and Matthew Clarke, Digital Initiatives and Metadata Assistant. Stream or download the podcast using the player below, or find the episode everywhere podcasts are found, including iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud, and Gretta.

The Magic Of Medieval Manuscripts

Jill Gage, Christopher Fletcher, and Matthew Clarke discuss:

  • How and why the Newberry Library has digitized old books and crowdsourced their transcription and translation.
  • Why these specific manuscripts were chosen and what makes the sources so rare and unique.
  • How modern-day witches, wizards, and warlocks have been extremely helpful in the transcription and translation project.
  • The focus of this particular project and some background on how the printing press changed the world at the end of the Middle Ages.
  • Origins of some of the spells that have been discovered, as well as the surprising link between medieval magic and medicine.
  • Why some libraries digitize their archives and others don’t, what’s involved in the scanning process, and what might encourage more institutions to share their archives in the future.

Whether you’re a fan of magic and charms or history and mystery, this podcast will be sure to satisfy the curious mind.

Click on here to follow along with a written transcript of this episode (and share clips with your friends).


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