Magic and the Body – Call for Papers


Illustration from Herrmann’s Book of Magic 1903

The Journal of Performance Magic: Magic and the Body issue – guest editor Madelon Hoedt

“A conjuror is not a juggler; he is an actor playing the part of a magician; an artist whose fingers have more need to move with deftness than with speed. I may even add that where sleight-of-hand is involved, the quieter the movement of the performer, the more readily will the spectators be deceived.” – Robert Houdin – Secrets of Conjuring and Magic

The words from Robert Houdin, included above, contain what is one of the most famous quotations in the field. Yet aside from the common interpretation in which the magician is said to play a role, a character, in an attempt to convince his audience, the context draws our attention to the art and physicality of magic performance. Indeed, the presence of the body is central to any kind of (live) performance. In Theatre and the Body (2009), Collette Conroy puts forward that “[i]n theatre, bodies have to both exist and not exist. They need to be used and manipulated and foregrounded to make any kind of theatre at all.” (74)

Despite the emphasis on (the development of) a stage persona, it is the physical presence of the magician which has received little attention. From the moment of the appearance onstage, the performer presents a magical body to the audience, a body in possession of nearly superhuman capabilities, the perception of which is influenced by the way in which said body is offered to the spectator.

The next issue of The Journal of Performance Magic seeks papers which explore the connection between the performance of the magician and his/her physical presence and presentation.

Topics include but are not limited to:

  • Magician as an acting body and character
  • “Super”/Magical body – Victimized body
  • The intelligent body in mentalism
  • Performance styles: physical, silent performance
  • Sideshow – Freak show performance
  • Mediated body: performance onscreen
  • Body inside and outside of performance

All contributions will be peer-reviewed subject to their acceptance. Full details can be found at

Please e-mail your contributions and/or queries to the editor Madelon Hoedt (by 30th April 2016)