Introducing Atalanta Fugiens

My class mascot was that brilliant multimedia alchemical text, Michael Maier’s Atalanta Fugiens. We used De Rola’s “Golden Game” which has the advantage of presenting just the emblems in high quality, but doesn’t give the poetry or music. My strategy was to first go over each image, saying little to explain it in order to allow the visual puzzle to present itself. The emblems can be found ripped out of context here.

I would love to do a course with enough musically trained people to do sight singing of the music while going over the emblems. When I spoke with Joscelyn Godwin, a music professor, about his work on the text and music, he seemed not to be all that impressed with the fugues themselves. I wonder to what degree we should be taking them seriously and studying the music of the fugues as part of the whole artistic picture of the work. Certainly seeing some of them performed by an early music group at an Alchemy conference was very moving to me.

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About teachingalchemy

I'm an MA student in Religious Studies working on Alchemy and Renaissance Magic. This blog is an effort to reflect on my experience teaching two academic courses on "Images of the Alchemical Art" and "Magical Traditions" at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, in 2005-2006.
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