Science of the Magical (9-11)

This class will take a scientific look into the elements of mystical places and magical objects—from the philosopher’s stone, to love potions to the oracles—from ancient history, mythology, and contemporary culture.

Can migrations of birds foretell our future? Do phases of the moon hold sway over our lives? Are there sacred springs that cure the ill? What is the best way to brew a love potion? How do we create mutant humans who regenerate like Wolverine? What are the historic and scientific elements behind behind the wolves and ravens found in Game of Thrones? Did ravens actually ever lead our ancestors to their destiny? The materials and activities of the class will guide you on a quest that will plumb the rich, lively, and surprising history of the magical objects, places, and rituals that infuse ancient and contemporary myth. From the strengthening powers of Viking mead, to the super soldiers in Marvel movies, be prepared to range across cultures and time periods to learn that there is often much more to these enduring magical narratives than mere fantasy.

Matt Kaplan (Class of ’95)