English 185C - Spring, 2019

Women's Writing III

Class Information

Instructor: Frederickson, Kathleen
Time: TR 1:40-3:00
Location: 118 Olson


    Topic: Witch Lit

    This course will examine how literature about witches has shaped the development of feminist politics since 1900. The course will read novels, poems, and plays that chart the literary history of witchcraft over the century. Some of the texts (Warner) we will read use the development of Wicca in the early twentieth century to think about the gender politics of interwar Britain. Others (Condé, Gaspar de Alba) retell the history of the Salem witch trials to foreground witchcraft’s embeddedness in the race politics of the Americas. Still more recent work restages British witch lit and its understanding of home and place through the figure Caribbean soucouyant (Oyeyemi). We will read these literary texts alongside histories and theories of witchcraft that have emerged over the course of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, from Margaret Murray’s “witch cult” hypothesis of the 1920s, through the adoption of witch-cult theory in 1970s radical feminism, to queer and trans retheorizations of witchcraft in the contemporary moment.


    Two papers
    Participation and Attendance


    Caryl Churchill, Vinegar Tom
    Maryse Condé, I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem
    Ann Petry, Tituba of Salem Village
    Helen Oyeyemi, White is for Witching
    Sylvia Townsend Warner, Lolly Willowes
    Selection of poetry and non-fiction on Canvas