In New Zealand, Massey University is offering a class (a.k.a. a “paper”) which examines attitudes toward magic.
The university’s new magic and witchcraft paper allows students to make voodoo dolls or “magical curse tablets” for their first assignment.
It was devised by senior classics lecturer Gina Salapata, who said it involved staff across the history, classics and religious studies departments. “These things are not just made up. The format of a curse or spell must be based on real examples from the classical period and reflect the beliefs of the practitioners.”
A course outline says it will help highlight “beliefs, values, structures and tensions” within societies studied. These include ancient Greece and Rome, medieval Europe, modern Europe and Maori society at the time of European colonisation.
The students aren’t taking this seriously or anything.
But everyone else seems to be.
Blog reader philosophia, who is taking the paper, says this:
…One of the other students even got an email from a relative saying they didn’t know she was a witch……
… Apparently the Wiccans and neo-Pagans feel we’re dabbling with Forces Beyond Our Understanding, the Christians think we’re going to hell, and there’s a whole group of other individuals who think that Arts degrees are a soft option and should be abolished…
And there’s this dude:
“I have two main concerns. The credibility of our education system relies on studies that are relevant to New Zealand’s social and economic future. This paper clearly doesn’t fit that criteria. Secondly, I have to question the appropriateness of a course on magic, which doesn’t exactly fit comfortably with our country’s profound Christian Heritage,” says [Family Party deputy leader Paul] Adams.
Christian heritage? Who knew.
In any case, that class sounds much more interesting than the Biochemistry elective I took…