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Carpenter & Westley movable astronomical slide, mid 19th century, collection Royal Institution London.
Carpenter & Westley astronomical slide, mid 19th century, collection Royal Institution London.
Lantern slide with dragonfly, collection Helmut Wälde.
B-MAGIC. The Magic Lantern and its Cultural Impact as Visual Mass Medium in Belgium (1830-1940)

Spokesperson & coordinator: Prof. Kurt Vanhoutte (UAntwerp)

Partners: Prof. VANHOUTTE Kurt, Prof. VAN DAMME Ilja (University of Antwerp), Prof. NASTA Dominique, Prof. VANHAESEBROUCK Karel (Université libre de Bruxelles), Prof. WILS Kaat (KULeuven), Prof. MARION Philippe (Université Catholique de Louvain), Dr. CARELS Edwin (KASK Gent), Prof. KESSLER Frank (Utrecht University)

Funding: Excellence of Science (EOS) programme 

Research area:  Human sciences: performance studies, cinema and media studies, urban history, history of science and knowledge, semiotics, visual analysis and narratology, political and communication sciences. 

Project website:


The B-magic project will host six PhD candidates. Vacancies are now open until July 2. 

All vacancies can be found on the project website: 


This project will write the as yet unwritten history of the magic lantern as a mass medium in Belgium. In doing so, it will make an essential contribution to the study of the country's cultural history as well as to international media historiography. It aims to rediscover the various functions of the lantern performance within the Belgian public sphere, in particular, its use in the transmission and negotiation of knowledge, norms and values by different societal groups. Scientists and entertainers, teachers and priests, political movements and organizations: they all used projected visual narratives to inform, entertain, educate and mobilize audiences of up to more than a thousand people per occasion. The lantern was the first visual mass medium to contest the printed word as a primary mode of information and instruction. All layers of society, both literate and illiterate, received visual information about nature, religion, science, new technologies and foreign countries. The B-Magic consortium will research the pivotal role of the magic lantern in Belgian society from the country's independence (1830) up to 1940, when its use declined. To this end, it brings together an interdisciplinary team of researchers from Performance Studies, Cinema and Media Studies, Urban History, History of Science and Knowledge, Communication Studies, Semiotics, and Narratology. B-Magic will produce the first comprehensive study of the role of the magic lantern as a mass medium in a country.




Press communication in English

Press communication in Dutch

Press communication in French 


Visual Poetics members Kurt Vanhoutte and Nele Wynants on the magic lantern in Belgium 


in the RTBF news : Les lanternes magiques : ancêtres du projecteur cinématographique


and on ATV: Onderzoek naar de toverlantaarn




• PACKED, Centre of Expertise in Digital Heritage
• Antwerp University library 
• Antwerp Museum M HKA 
• Brussels: Cinematek
• Brussels Institute of Contemporary Chinese Studies
• Brussels: Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK-IRPA)
• Ghent University library
• Ghent History of Sciences Museum
• Ghent: Museum Huis Van Alijn
• Ghent: Museum Dr Guislain
• Ghent City Museum STAM
• Leuven: KADOC
• Turnhout: School Heilig Graf


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