Taylor, Nicholas (2020) Performing Real Magic(K): The Conjurer and Audience in Bizarre Magick. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This submission draws together seven publications (four from the academic press and three from performance magic publications) and a covering document to set out an original contribution to knowledge in the field of bizarre magick. Bizarre magick is a sub-genre of performance magic and critical attention has been scarce in this field. The publications gathered here offer the only extended study of bizarre magick and performance that covers its inception as a form and how that form has found a place in modern mystery entertainment. This submission is informed through the author’s practice as a bizarre magician.

Following an initial study of the performers of Bizarre Magick, the publications included then focus mostly on detailed studies of specific aspects of the genre and its legacy; examining how bizarre magicians sought to re-enchant performance magic with the mysterious and the spiritual; discussing how practitioners of the bizarre draw heavily on fictionalised histories of science fiction, horror and the supernatural to create site-specific ritual and ceremony; and exploring the spectatorship of bizarre magick against wider issues of disenchantment in conventional magic performance practice. The three industry only works (offered an appendix) underline the author’s relationship to the reflective in performance practice.

The covering document sets out the core arguments that underpin the included publications, forming a cohesive approach to bizarre magick practice and its offshoots that allows us to read the genre as an integral and important performance form that has a lasting legacy in the field of performance magic. I argue that Bizarre Magick pulls at the very essence of magic practice and draws so heavily from a range of areas such as horror, the fantastic and the Gothic that it cannot be ignored as a form. In doing so, the combined research generates new possibilities for understanding and developing wider practices in performance magic and the notion of what it might mean to be a magician.

FINAL THESIS - Taylor, Nicholas.pdf - Accepted Version
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