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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Magic in the Middle Ages by Universitat de Barcelona

1,400 ratings
457 reviews

About the Course

Magical thought has always attracted human imagination. In this course we will introduce you to the Middle Ages through a wide conception of magic. Students will have an approach to medieval culture, beliefs and practices from the perspective of History and History of Science. Popular magic, as well as learned magic (alchemy, geomancy and necromancy) will be addressed. Moreover, we will also deal with how eastern practices and texts influenced western culture. In July 2016, the course will contain a brand-new module devoted to astrology. Magic in the Middle Ages offers a captivating overview of medieval society and promotes reflection about certain stereotypes associated with this period. At the end of the course, the students: a) will have overcome the usual prejudices about the Middle Ages, b) will be able to analyze historical documentation from the Middle Ages and recognize the most common patterns of juridical documents regarding witchcraft, and c) will be capable of distinguishing between popular magic and the magic of the learned people; will have a notion of which spiritual practices were allowed in medieval Europe and which ones were related to the devil, and will be aware of the link between a cultural product and the society that produced it. This course is taught in English, although subtitles in English, Catalan and Spanish will also be provided. COURSE SYLLABUS Week 1. Introduction to medieval magic (Pau Castell). Week 2. Magic & Heresy (Delfi I. Nieto-Isabel). Week 3. From Magic to Witchcraft (Pau Castell). Week 4. Magic in Islam (Godefroid de Callataÿ and Sébastien Moureau). Week 5. Astrology & Geomancy (Theo Loinaz, Delfi I. Nieto-Isabel, Godefroid de Callataÿ and Blanca Villuendas). © Gemma Pellissa Prades (coord.), Delfi I. Nieto-Isabel and Joana Palau Mumany Magic in the Middle Ages by Gemma Pellissa Prades (coord.), Delfi I. Nieto-Isabel and Joana Palau Mumany is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License....

Top reviews

Mar 23, 2018

Helpful and insightful. I try to learn as much about witchcraft and all religions as I can. The first set of videos were well lit and well read. I recommend this for anyone who wants to learn more.

Jul 14, 2020

This course was really thorough and interesting. I liked how it covered a range of religions and regions and I think it's great how there are interactive assignments which judge out writing.

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301 - 325 of 453 Reviews for Magic in the Middle Ages

By R F

Jun 15, 2021


By Hicham L

Aug 13, 2020

very optimal

By Abigail L

Jan 12, 2020

Great thanks

By Дарья А С

Dec 28, 2017


By Santos P M M

Jul 27, 2020


By Grisel N

Aug 1, 2020


By Jiayang T

Jun 23, 2018


By Porfirio S M

Jul 2, 2017


By Matthew D

Jan 18, 2017

Was Great!

By Jose A S B

Oct 4, 2020


By Gustavo M A A

Aug 31, 2020


By Ygor K B

Feb 1, 2019


By Silvia C T

Jun 10, 2017

very good

By Antony E M G

May 4, 2018


By Erick C

Oct 24, 2016

Good !


Aug 14, 2020


By Joseph V

Jan 10, 2017

Not being an historian on the Middle Ages, Magic in the Middle Ages seems like an accurate and well planned course. Week-4 and week-5 were the most interesting, with week-5 delving into the knitted relationship of magic in Islam, with roots and lineages directly connected to contemporary practices of "magic" (which is something I did not know and was very curious about regarding the context of political and religious tensions evolving throughout the middle east). I would have liked more activity-based and practical instructional units on how magic and rituals were conducted, especially information on healing, medicines, and alchemy. Geomancy was the only practical component with explicit details on how to cast figures, and it needed to incorporate how it was used with astrology in a practical way. A unit on Astrology and the Astrolabe was needed as well since the videos and literature often referred to astrology, and without a basic working and understanding of how an astrolabe was used to calculate a chart, the student is left hanging on having to figure way too much on their own (which becomes rife with problems and miscommunication). The quizzes and assignments are fun but often awkwardly worded which became confusing, and can easily be cheated on. Grading of assignments was a bit nebulous and put into question others abilities to accurately and fairly grade. People paying money for course content should be separated from students not paying because engaging, stimulating, and critical analysis as discourse cannot be maintained in fidelity. Of course, the credibility of ALL courses on Coursera are at stake because little to no universities and businesses accept the certificates as valid credentials for jobs or career ladder mobility. Ultimately, one is paying for a piece of paper that is not really valued or even usable at the very same institutes that put together the coursework; and that is a very lame proposition! The final kicker is that I needed to submit highly sensitive, personal identification just to get a PDF of the certificate--absolutely ridiculous, especially considering that the topic of interest for this course neither necessitates nor warrants such high-end secure methods.

By Georgette C

May 18, 2021

I learned how knowledge developed from Ancient Greece and Rome; how it traveled throughout Europe, Africa and the Middle East; and how discrimination and heresy was used to exploit a group-think concept. It appeared to be very similar to today within politics and religion (Trump, Populism, and Israel/Palestine). Have we not evolved within 700+ years? I learned how discriminatory it was that only men had access to world knowledge. I also learned how exciting, yet cruel, it was to live in the Middle Ages based on what you believe or how you were educated. One improvement - public education!

I would change how you publish your assignments. It appear to be in several different pages on the app. Keep the instructions, the reading material and the tasks all on one page. Perhaps having a non-graded, pre-prep test to the quizzes and assignments would help with confusion. It was frustrating not knowing if I was doing the right thing because the information was scattered across the module.

By Janet T

Jun 18, 2019

I enjoyed this course greatly and significantly expanded my knowledge of medieval times and associated magic. I particularly liked that the course included the relationships of magic in Christian, Islamic and Jewish religions.

The lectures were clear and focused and always accompanied by appropriate literature ensuring that they were at the appropriate academic level.

To help with the continuous improvement of the course which you obviously undertake regularly I make the following comments.

It would be useful to include specific clarification of the relationships between

· Miracles and magic.

· The Science of Letters and magic

· Geomancy and magic

I always like to have a rubric presented before I attempt an assessment. This helps you to ensure that the assessment is on target.

I have certainly expanded my knowledge of this discipline and my experience with this course encourages my to do other courses on history.

By Harel R

Apr 7, 2020

Great course, very interesting information. A few problems I found though in the course:

1 Some of the lecturers spoke very fast. That's solvable with the 0.75 speed, but still.

2 The Islamic videos were hard to follow because it felt like information that should have been spread over 2-3 modules was crammed into one module - too much information all at once.

3 I found some of the info about Jews and magic/demons to be imprecise. It was unclear on which Judaic sources these certain claims were based on.

4 The final peer-reviewed assignment included taking notes on an image from a medieval blockbook. This particular image featured a naked figure representing the moon, which i sadly glanced at unknowingly. I think that to make the course more appropriate for all people, it would be good to choose a different blockbook image.

Other than all of these points, thank you very much for the fascinating course!

By Reina M

Feb 22, 2021

I did enjoy the course very much and learned a lot. There were some points that I think need to be improved:

- Instructions for the papers that need to be written for peer review are really not clear. For the second one, the links of the images that are supposed to be analyzed are not working.

-there is no feedback from any of the mentors to many questions. It is like everybody left the building.

If you are planning to take this course, my advice is that before you start a unit, you take a look at the questions in the forum and then go to revise the material. That will help you to understand it better. Specially on lesson 4, unless you are very known with Arab history, take a look first at the extra videos and then look at the lesson. In the extra videos you get the historical background that maybe you don't have (at least I did not) and make it much easier to understand.

By Belinda S

May 31, 2020

A very interesting quick dip into shifting perceptions of magic in Christian Europe and how other cultures such as Islam enriched the practices of divination, calculation and astrology. For me, the two most interesting aspects were how the authority of the church through the inquisitors worked to divorce earlier belief systems, such as the tradition of nocturnal beings familiar to the illiterate classes, from the practices and beliefs of the Christian Church. Thus, consolidating the purity and integrity of the Christian doctrine, as distinct from previous beliefs and practices and laying the foundations of Christian orthodoxy. A good overview of a number of different aspects of magic. Thank you to the University of Barcelona, the Magic in the Middle Ages team and Coursera

By Victoria B

Jan 24, 2021

I really enjoyed this course! I thought the lectures were really informative, and I feel like I definitely have a more rounded knowledge of Magic in the Middle Ages. Two criticisms that I have is that I think week 4 needs a bit of work in terms of emphasis and focus on overarching points. I also really hope that the instructors are able to fix the criteria on the first assignment (assignment instructions and rubric are different), and the links on the second assignment (two were broken links and didn't work, despite being essential to the completion of the assignment). I think these assignments definitely would discourage people from finishing the course. Beyond that, though, the course is great and I highly recommend it!

By Frans Z

Jun 19, 2020

When signing up for the course I didn't realize the course wasn't about magic, but about the history of magic in the Middle Ages. Once I had overcome my disappointment, I actually liked the course content quite a lot. My only quibble is that the videos contain very little visual material .I would recommend, for the next iteration of the course the embedding of illustrations in the videos, or making available supplementary illustrated material in pdf form and/or hyperlinks.

The part I liked most was the chapter on Magic and Islam, which was very well thought out and presented. The supplementary video with the cut-out figures of Arab scholars was (unintentionally?) quite funny.

By Manuel

Jan 28, 2018

Los profesores han demostrado una imparcialidad difícil de ver hoy en día en temas históricos y se han proporcionado muchas fuentes para ampliar información. La única crítica que hago es respecto de las tareas calificadas por compañeros. Las considero muy dirigidas en tanto que se espera una forma de responder muy concreta y, en mi opinión, va contra el sentido crítico independiente, además de que ser calificado por otras personas que son, al igual que uno mismo, alumnos, no me parece adecuado ("ciegos, guías de ciegos") incluso dirigiendo la respuesta por parte del profesorado hacia puntos clave. Salvo eso, el resto perfecto y en balance general, muy recomendable.