Claire Fanger

WEBSITE(S)| ClaireFanger

I am a medievalist with a research focus on understandings and practices of Latin Christianity in the later Middle Ages, and texts and manuscripts of magic, especially angel magic in a Christian context. I edited two field defining collections on this topic (Conjuring Spirits [1998] and Invoking Angels [2012]). My research is driven by a broad concern with questions about knowing, and the relation of the arts and sciences to less institutionally stable forms of knowledge like magic, prophecy and theophany. I have paid special attention to an early 14th-century French monk named John of Morigny who cultivated visions of the Virgin and authored a complex prayer system that allowed its operators to gain Mary’s visionary assistance in various knowledge projects. John’s magnum opus, The Flowers of Heavenly Teaching, was until lately known only through a chronicle report of its burning, in 1323, as a heretical revival of condemned magic. I published an edition and commentary on the work with Nicholas Watson, and discuss its larger implications in another book, Rewriting Magic (2015). I am now involved in a study of prophecy, prayers and dreams, which takes my epistemological concerns with angel magic in a slightly different (though related) direction.

I am accepting graduate students with some Latin interested in premodern Christianity and the varied connections between doctrine, practice, sanctity, and shaping of religious selves.

FWIS 150 The World of Medieval Medicine
RELI/FSEM 100 Romancing Religion: Narratives of the Grail
RELI/MDEM 105 Introduction to Medieval Christian Thought
RELI/FSEM 171The Body and the Cosmos in the Middle Ages
RELI/MDEM 271 Medieval Popular Christianity
RELI/MDEM 305 and RELI 566 Pain, Ecstasy and Embodiment in Religious Experience
RELI/MDEM/SWGS 314 Divine Sex: Gender and Divinity in the Middle Ages
RELI 317/ 541 Creating Magic: Key Writings on Magic and Religion
RELI 367/RELI 557 Representing the Devil in Christian Theology and Art
RELI 386/MDEM 386 Medieval and Renaissance Magic and Magicians
RELI 555/ANTH 550 Historical Anthropologies of Religion (with J. D. Faubion, Anthropology)
RELI 387 and 587 Western Esotericism: Method and Theory
RELI/MDEM 444and RELI 644 Visions and Visionary Practices: Medieval to Modern
RELI 611 Readings in Medieval Latin

My work has been supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (1994 Postdoc and 1998 Research Grant, for work on John of Morigny), The American Philosophical Society (2003 Franklin Grant, for John of Morigny manuscript consultation), and The American Council of Learned Societies (2017 Fellowship, for my project Prophecy in Practice).

I edit a journal, Magic, Ritual and Witchcraft (published by the University of Pennsylvania Press), and a book series, Magic in History (Penn State University Press), both in long term collaboration with Richard Kieckhefer. I draw editorial assistants for the journal from among Rice Graduate students.

Rewriting Magic: An Exegesis of the Visionary Autobiography of a Fourteenth-Century French Monk. University Park: Penn State University Press, 2015.
John of Morigny’s Flowers of Heavenly Teaching: An Edition and Commentary. With Nicholas Watson. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies Press, 2015.
The Latin Verses in John Gower’s Confessio Amantis: An Annotated Translation. With Siân Echard. East Lansing, Mich.: Colleagues Press, 1991. Awarded the John Hurt Fisher Prize for Gower studies in 1998.

Edited Books:
Invoking Angels: Theurgic Ideas and Practices, Thirteenth to Sixteenth Century. University Park: Penn State University Press, 2012.
Conjuring Spirits: Texts and Traditions of Medieval Ritual Magic. University Park: Penn State University Press, 1998.

Related Links:
Societas Magica
Magic, Ritual & Witchcraft
Magic in History
Fourteenth-Century Society

Research Areas

John of Morigny, the intellectual history of magic, medieval cosmology and epistemology, dreams and visions, occult traditions early and late, representations of human modes of access to the divine. Areas of Teaching include medieval Christian thought, devotional literature, saints’ lives, history of magic, modern occultism, esotericism.


PhD, Medieval Studies, University of Toronto

MA, Creative Writing, Boston University

BA, English, Reed College


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