Theory and Art of Magic Conference
Theory and Art of Magic Conference, a program designed to create an academic festival of magic, was conceived and directed by Dr. Lawrence Hass (philosopher and magician) at the Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania.
One of it's mission was to show that good magic deserves recognition as a high art with deep theoretical foundations.
The first was held in September and October of 1999, as a series of performances and scholarly talks on magic by Eugene Burger, Robert Fellows, Lawrence Hass, Hiawatha, Robert E. Neale, Darwin Ortiz, and Margaret Steele. Some of the talks for the program became the source for a nine-month series of articles edited by Dr. Hass for The Linking Ring.
Building upon the successes of this series, Muhlenberg hosted a second in 2002. Directed again by Dr. Hass. Max Maven inaugurated the program in September with Jeff McBride and Eugene Burger closing the program in November. The intervening weeks included René Lavand, Marc DeSouza, Lawrence Hass, and Robert E. Neale.
The third was held in the fall 2004 and was prominently featured in the New York Times (October 27, 2004). The program kicked-off with a theatre show starring Topas and Eugene Burger (both of whom also gave a series of lectures). They were followed by Dr. Lee Siegel (University of Hawaii) and Juan Tamariz. Dr. Hass, in November, gave a philosophical exploration of “The Delirium of Magic.” And Luna Shemada and Dirk Losander closed out the 2004 program with a full-evening show and a series of lectures.
The fall 2006 series included John Carney, a Keynote Address by Jim Steinmeyer, Eugene Burger’s “spirit theatre,” Jamy Ian Swiss, a full-stage recreation of the Hermann show by Margaret Steele and James Hamilton, and a "Evening with Teller."
Breaking the every two year cycle, The Theory and Art of Magic program took their series to Las Vegas during spring break of 2007 in March at the Orleans Hotel and Casino. Beginning with a banquet for program participants and Muhlenberg alumni, the program contained daily classes on the philosophy of magic by Dr. Hass, private performances with Jeff McBride and Eugene Burger, private conversations with Mac King and Lance Burton after their shows, and a special afternoon with Teller.
The final Theory and Art of Magic program at Muhlenberg College happened in 2009 (Due to Hass' wife being appointing as President of Austin College in Sherman, Texas), On March 18-22, 2009, the keynote performances and presentations were by Eugene Burger, filmmaker Michael Caplan, Roberto Giobbi, and Max Howard.
Hass promised the program would be going to Austin College, where he now teaches magic and philosophy as "Professor of Humanities".