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Grant number: FT-249362-16

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Jason P. Leddington
Bucknell University (Lewisburg, PA 17837-2005)

The Art of the Impossible: A Philosophical Inquiry into the Aesthetics of Magic

A book-length philosophical analysis of the aesthetics of theatrical magic.

The Art of the Impossible is a book project in philosophical aesthetics. It focuses primarily on the art of theatrical magic (think Copperfield, not Potter), which the American Society for Aesthetics recognizes as a “neglected art.” The project builds on my prize-winning essay, “The Experience of Magic,” which is the first philosophical treatment of theatrical magic in the analytic—or, to my knowledge, any—tradition. Yet The Art of the Impossible targets not only academics within and without philosophy, but also popular audiences, for in breaking new theoretical ground it also raises questions of general interest. Despite longstanding academic neglect, magic remains popular on stage, TV, and in film. Arguably, then, it is an important contemporary art form that is badly understood. This project aims to change this, both within and without the academy, and, in the process, to establish a new area of inquiry in aesthetics.

Project fields:

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
8/1/2016 – 9/30/2016