2014 ~ Frank Klaassen, The Transformation of Magic: Illicit Learned Magic in the Later Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Pennsylvania State University Press, 2013.
Klaassen’s elegantly written monograph is an incisive analysis of an understudied body of evidence. His argument that two types of “illicit learned magic” characterized the period between 1300 and 1600 brings coherence and clarity to an intellectual tradition that has too often been overlooked. By locating magical texts within broad theological, philosophical, and scholarly traditions and by emphasizing the continuities between medieval ritual magic and Renaissance texts, Klaassen challenges his readers to see medieval and Renaissance intellectual culture in new ways. His work thus not only makes a valuable contribution to the history of magic in the premodern era, but it also participates in conversations about the periodization of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. His study stood out in a year in which there were several strong contenders for the Labarge prize. Click here for more.