Professor Michael Bailey of Iowa State University will address “Medieval Superstition and Modern Skepticism” in a talk scheduled for 5:15 p.m. Thursday, March 13, at the Arkansas Studies Institute.
Bailey is a medieval historian whose expertise is in the history of magic, superstition, and witchcraft.
The talk, which is free and open to the public, will be framed by the interesting modern case of enduring superstitions on American college campuses.
According to Dr. Bailey, although the modern world sees the medieval era as rife with superstition, the truth is far more interesting than that. His talk will examine actual medieval attitudes toward what were commonly regarded at superstitions and contrast these attitudes to supposed modern rationality and skepticism.
Bailey argues that the transition from “medieval” attitudes toward “modern” ones did not demonstrate steady development toward scientific rationality.
Rather, medieval attitudes were fluid and fluctuating, according to Bailey. Medieval authorities did not conceive of superstitions solely in religious terms but also viewed them through the lens of natural philosophy or science.
Among Bailey’s scholarly publications are “Battling Demons: Witchcraft, Heresy, and Reform in the Late Middle Ages” and “Fearful Spirits, Reasoned Follies: The Boundaries of Superstition in Late Medieval Europe.”
He has also written a broad survey, “Magic and Superstition in Europe: A Concise History from Antiquity to the Present,” and he was the founding editor of the interdisciplinary journal “Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft,” published by the University of Pennsylvania Press.
The talk is sponsored by the UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture and the Mabel W. Formica and Santo D. Formica History Endowment. No reservations are required to attend.