This page is for my book, The Myth of Disenchantment: Magic, Modernity, and the Birth of the Human Sciences. It contains a master list of related pages and bonus content.
Brief summary: “A great many theorists have argued that the defining feature of modernity is that people no longer believe in spirits, myths, or magic. Jason Ā. Josephson-Storm argues that as broad cultural history goes, this narrative is wrong, as attempts to suppress magic have failed more often than they have succeeded. Even the human sciences have been more enchanted than is commonly supposed. But that raises the question: How did a magical, spiritualist, mesmerized Europe ever convince itself that it was disenchanted?
Josephson-Storm traces the history of the myth of disenchantment in the births of philosophy, anthropology, sociology, folklore, psychoanalysis, and religious studies. Ironically, the myth of mythless modernity formed at the very time that Britain, France, and Germany were in the midst of occult and spiritualist revivals. Indeed, Josephson-Storm argues, these disciplines’ founding figures were not only aware of, but profoundly enmeshed in, the occult milieu; and it was specifically in response to this burgeoning culture of spirits and magic that they produced notions of a disenchanted world. For scholars who have already become suspicious of the disenchantment thesis, The Myth of Disenchantment explains how in the face of widespread belief in spirits and magic disenchantment nevertheless came to function as a regime of truth or disciplinary norm in the human sciences.
By providing a novel history of the human sciences and their connection to esotericism, The Myth of Disenchantment dispatches with most widely held accounts of modernity and its break from the premodern past.”
Personal note: I think of a book as opening a dialogue with readers. So please feel free to email me to discuss issues the book evokes, answer questions, or provide clarifications. For faculty members teaching the book, I’m also potentially available to Skype into your class.
Master-List of Extra Content:
Ordering The Myth of Disenchantment:
- University of Chicago official page for the book (includes Table of Contents).
- Order it on Amazon US here: LINK, Amazon UK: LINK
- Click here to download a PRESS KIT pdf about the book. Includes a short interview.
- A Brief Video Summary of “The Myth of Disenchantment” by Religion for Breakfast
Guest Blog Posts and Interviews:
- A discussion of how I came to write the book can be found on Cosmologics Magazine.
- A brief introduction to the book can be found on Immanent Frame
- A brief interview with me about the book can be read at Religion Dispatches.
- An audio interview with “New Books in Intellectual History” for their podcast is here.
- An in-depth interview with the British website “Dreamflesh” can be read here.
- A brief discussion of “Max Weber in the Realm of Enchantment” for Forbidden Histories can be found here.
- A video interview with me about all three book projects for the University of Oregon Humanities Center can be found here.
- Another video interview by Religion for Breakfast can be found here.
- A contribution to New Atlantis, “Why Do We Think We Are Disenchanted?” (touches on the book’s relationship to Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age)
- A contribution to Aeon “Against Disenchantment” focused on the Frankfurt School in particular.
(It has now been reviewed 29 times in professional journals)
Selected Full Length Reviews:
1. Review in History of Humanities.
2. Review in Religionsvidenskabeligt Tidsskrift (Danish)
3. Review in Magonia Review of Books.
4. Review in First Things.
5. Review in The Metropolitan Society for International Affairs
6. Review in The Journal of Ecclesiastical History
7. Review in Journal of the American Academy of Religion. (Recommended review)
8. Review in Inference International Review of Science.
9. Review in Philosophy in Review
10. Review in Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft (Recommended review)
List of Review Quotes at the Press Website.
- I’ve made an errata page here.
- On November 19, 2017, there
will bewas an author meets Critics Panel on “The Myth of Disenchantment” at the American Academy of Religion meeting in Boston co sponsored by three program units–Cultural History of the Study of Religion, Philosophy of Religion, & Critical Theories and Discourses in Religion Units. If you are coming to the conference, please join me.