Books for a College Level Magic Class

RealityOne

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Nov 1, 2009
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So, I've been daydreaming a bit today and came up with an interesting question:

If you were teaching a college level, semester-long, class in magic, what books would you use?

It has to be books in print or available legally in PDF format. The total cost can't be more than $150.

So what would you choose if you are the professor? I'm working on my list, and will post in a couple of days.
 

Gabriel Z.

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I would go with a fluid type course which everyone learns from each other including the professor:

1.Royal Road to Card Magic
2.Expert Card Technique
3.The Expert at the Card Table


Way below the allotted $150........ So I'll use the remainder to buy wood so I could actually build the school in which I would be teaching.:p
 
Nov 12, 2016
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What a fun question! Would it be a "magic 101" or a course for people who are already into the art?
Oh that’s a fantastic question! Like if it’s just an appreciation class I’d probably pick some books with philosophy in it like “Magic of Michael Ammarr”, but if it’s a intro to magic performance than I’d have to lean towards books more leaning towards a performer like the tarbell series.
 

WitchDocIsIn

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Sep 13, 2008
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Hm. Let's see.

Mark Wilson's Complete Course in Magic - new price, $23 on Amazon.
Scripting Magic by Pete McCabe, Vol 1 - $50
Maximum Entertainment 2.0 by Ken Weber - $40
Magic and Showmanship by Henning Nelms - $12

Total: $125 at most. Most of those can be found for much cheaper used.

This would provide material, scripting structure, and performance theory. Everything a new performer would need.
 
Mar 7, 2016
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I have not read them but mostly these are recommended. I think as a course these may be good.
For Mentalism - 13 steps to Mentalism by Corinda
For Coin Magic - Modern Coin Magic by J.B Bobo
For Cards - Mnemonica by Juan Tamariz
 
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Dec 4, 2020
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1) The Expert at the Card Table (paperback) - $19.99
2) Expert Card Technique (paperback) - $12.65
3) The Royal Road to Card Magic (paperback) - $13.59
4) Modern Coin Magic by Bobo (paperback) - $6.02
5) David Roth's Expert Coin Magic by Richard Kauffman (paperback)
6) Mark Wilson's Complete Course in Magic (paperback) - $6.79
7) Magick, myth and mentalism (paperback)
8) Corinda's 13 steps to Mentalism (paperback)

P.S. Paperback costs less than hard covers. PDFs cost less than paperbacks.
 
Jun 3, 2020
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Magic In Mind - Joshua Jay's collection of various Magicians' essays - (for theory) - FREE
Rubinstein Coin Magic - (coins) - $80
RRTCM & ECT - Hugard & Braue - Basic reference of foundational Card Sleights - $20
Art of Astonishment 1 & 2 $50 when they're on sale. (I ran out of money here so no Vol 3. I guess)
 

RealityOne

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Nov 1, 2009
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.Royal Road to Card Magic
2.Expert Card Technique
3.The Expert at the Card Table

Good choices, but I would want to go beyond cards. Also, I think EACT is overrated.

Mark Wilson's Complete Course in Magic - new price, $23 on Amazon.
Scripting Magic by Pete McCabe, Vol 1 - $50
Maximum Entertainment 2.0 by Ken Weber - $40
Magic and Showmanship by Henning Nelms - $12

I see and agree with the thinking here... the technique is secondary to the presentation. I've found Nelms to be a more difficult read, especially in light of the dated nature of a lot of the effects he uses as illustration. The said, I may have to reread the book to make a final decision. I've got to also re-read Scripting Magic. My recollection is that I enjoyed the scripting but too often it lacked what I would call meaning.

For Mentalism - 13 steps to Mentalism by Corinda
For Coin Magic - Modern Coin Magic by J.B Bobo
For Cards - Mnemonica by Juan Tamariz

I don't feel like Corinda is a beginner text and I don't think I would want to get into Mentalism. Mnemonica is too specific focusing on just the use of a memorized deck.

1) The Expert at the Card Table (paperback) - $19.99
2) Expert Card Technique (paperback) - $12.65
3) The Royal Road to Card Magic (paperback) - $13.59
4) Modern Coin Magic by Bobo (paperback) - $6.02
5) David Roth's Expert Coin Magic by Richard Kauffman (paperback)
6) Mark Wilson's Complete Course in Magic (paperback) - $6.79
7) Magick, myth and mentalism (paperback)
8) Corinda's 13 steps to Mentalism (paperback)

See above for EATCT and Corinda's and Roth's book is out of print and, to my knowledge, never available as a paper back. Same with Mind, Myth and Magic.

Magic In Mind - Joshua Jay's collection of various Magicians' essays - (for theory) - FREE
Rubinstein Coin Magic - (coins) - $80
RRTCM & ECT - Hugard & Braue - Basic reference of foundational Card Sleights - $20
Art of Astonishment 1 & 2 $50 when they're on sale. (I ran out of money here so no Vol 3. I guess)

I had Magic in Mind on my list. Why Rubinstein over the less expensive Bobo? I don't have that and I fear you may be costing me another $80 (again, not for the first or even second time). You've put me in a bind with AoA. I hadn't thought of that but it probably is the best modern magic book out there.
 
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RealityOne

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So here is what I've got so far:

The Art of Magic - T. Nelson Downs (1909) (PDF - $5.50)
Our Magic - Nevil Maskelyne & David Devant (1911) (PDF - $8.00)
Original Tarbell Course (1928-1931) (PDF - $24.50)
Jinx (1934-1941) (PDF - $15 or Conjuring Arts Research Center - Free)
Encyclopedia of Card Tricks (1937) ($13 or Free on LPP)
Royal Road to Card Tricks (1949) ($5 PDF or $13 Softcover)
Scarne on Card Tricks (1950) ($8 PDF or $12 Paperback)
Modern Coin Magic - J.D. Bobo (1952) (PDF $8.50 or Paperback $10 or Free LPP)
Mark Wilson Complete Course in Magic (1975) (Paperback - $23)
Magic in Mind (2013) (Free PDF from Vanishing, Inc.)
Genii (Digital Subscription - $35)


Those total around $109 using the least expensive or free options. My only concern is that Mark Wilson't book would overlap with the other sources but I kept it in because its explanations are excellent.

I'm leaning toward adding:

Ken Webber – Maximum Entertainment ($40)

Also under consideration are:

Art and Artifice - Jim Steinmeyer ($16)
Transformations - Larry Haas ($40)
Hiding the Elephant - Jim Steinmeyer ($11)
The Secret History of Magic - Jim Steinmeyer and Peter Lamont ($28)
Five Points in Magic - Juan Tamariz ($40)
Card College Volumes 1 and 2 - Roberto Giobbi (PDF with Performance Videos or Books - Both $80)
Art of Astonishment - Paul Harris, Volume 1 ($45)


I would like to use the opening essays in Art and Artifice and Transformations (with permission, of course). Transformations is a great book but I think the cost would require me to cut something else. I think Hiding the Elephant covers a lot of the history in Art and Artifice and is a more enjoyable read. The Secret History of Magic is more comprehensive than Hiding the Elephant, but Lamont's style is somewhat didactic in pursuing his theory of magic history. Five Points is great, but probably needs to be excluded for budget reasons. Card College and AoA are great books and I always recommend them for self-study, but I think I'd exclude them because the older texts (Art of Magic, Our Magic, Jinx, RRTCM, ECT, Tarbell, Modern Coin Magic) can be used to foster creativity and adaptation while giving a sense of the history of magic. Also, the Genii subscription would provide a lot of modern effects and presentations.

With all that said, I'd probably go with adding Maximum Entertainment and Hiding the Elephant for a total of $160. I'd be interested in anyone's thoughts on my list.

For those who haven't posted yet, feel free to post your books. Regardless of whether you have posted, you can help with the next step (using my selected book or any books you like) ....

What is the syllabus? Assuming three one-hour classes and an extra hour for performance lab a week for 15 weeks, what would you teach for each class and lab? What would the reading assignments be for each class? What would the students be graded on (writing assignments, tests, performances, etc.)?
 
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RealityOne

Moderator
Nov 1, 2009
3,578
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New Jersey
What is the syllabus? Assuming three one-hour classes and an extra hour for performance lab a week for 15 weeks, what would you teach for each class and lab? What would the reading assignments be for each class? What would the students be graded on (writing assignments, tests, performances, etc.)?

So my wife informed that it is likely that nobody would be as crazy as me and come up with a complete syllabus just for fun. I replied, "I'm sure lots of people would do it just for the intellectual challenge." She gave me the same look as when I ask her to pick a card. So, feel free to reply with ideas of what you would want to cover, ideas for a single class, readings that you think would be interested, performance ideas, essay topics, etc. If you are "as crazy as me" feel free to post the entire syllabus.
 
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Jun 3, 2020
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I had Magic in Mind on my list. Why Rubinstein over the less expensive Bobo? I don't have that and I fear you may be costing me another $80 (again, not for the first or even second time). You've put me in a bind with AoA. I hadn't thought of that but it probably is the best modern magic book out there.


LOL, I chose Rubinstein because I felt like it was a complete course in coin magic in a modern setting and included many of the best works that preceded it, or at least included improved variations of them.
It's a massive book but also one of the few coin books I actually own and read and I only listed books that I currently own. But yeah, it consumed a large part of my fictitious college book budget.
 
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