Call for Papers: Witchcraft and Magic Symposium, University of York, 22nd – 23rd June 2023 (Deadline Early May 2023)

Applications are now open for this two-day conference exploring various aspects of witchcraft and magic from the medieval period (broadly defined) to the modern (to 1930). The conference will be held in the historic city of York, kindly hosted by the Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies.
Applications should speak on the panels listed below, as well as individual submissions and
suggestions for additional panels.

Potential themes include, but are not limited to:

  • Magic/witchcraft and material culture
  • Magic/witchcraft and storytelling: verbal, testamentary, literary
  • Regional/temporal comparisons
  • Practices and discourses beyond the European / Christian paradigm
  • Animals and the supernatural
  • Space and place
  • Social impacts of witchcraft and magic

Submissions are encouraged from PGRs, ECRs and established academics. Please send your paper title and 250 word abstract to and The deadline to
apply is 2nd May 2023 (flexible).

Pre-decided panels include (we welcome applications to speak on all of these):

  1. Witchcraft or Counter-witchcraft? Just a Matter of Opinion!
    The perception of witchcraft and what constitutes an act of witchcraft has changed
    throughout the centuries. From a heresy that needed to be obliterated to the
    fashionable occult power of the educated echelons of society that needed to be
    cherished, witchcraft has been perceived differently according to cultural
    background, social status, and historical periods. More specifically, what was perceived as an act of witchcraft (symbolising attack) by some, was perceived as an act of counter-witchcraft (symbolising protection) by others. This panel would like to interrogate this dichotomous perception.
  2. Witchcraft and Counter-witchcraft: material culture and ritual toolkits
    The physical manifestation of witchcraft and counter-witchcraft beliefs throughout
    the centuries has produced ritual ‘toolkits’ made up by charms, effigies, amulets,
    botanicals and many other objects connected to specific worldviews, landscapes and
    environments. Although many of these objects have been identified in the
    documentary evidence and a few have been found through archaeological evidence,
    many others still remain hidden in obscurity. This panel would like to expand the discourse on the material culture associated with witchcraft and counter-witchcraft through the comparison of evidence collected from a range of sources. Papers engaging with how such items are interpreted and displayed in museums and collections are also welcome.
  3. Space and place: The impact of the environment on fear, hope and belief
    What role does physical space have on reactions to, and belief in, magic and
    witchcraft? Shakespeare portrayed supernatural occurrences as largely happening in
    marginal places: moors, woodland and outside city boundaries. Is this an accurate
    representation of lived experiences of magic? Do social and physical marginalization
    overlap? How do changes in the environment affect people’s behaviour and beliefs?
    This panel will explore what a geographical approach can tell us about humans’
    relationship with the supernatural.
  4. Tolerance and deviance
    Benjamin Kaplan introduced the idea of ‘religious pragmatism’, arguing that, in the
    wake of the Protestant Reformation, people in divided communities still had to rub
    along with their supposedly heretical neighbours. Can this concept be applied to
    practitioners of magic as well? Scholarly focus has often been on the persecution and
    marginalisation of deviant individuals, but this may only be part of the story.
    This panel will explore instances of tolerance and acceptance of witchcraft and
    magic. We welcome scholars to approach this topic from any angle, ranging from
    archaeological evidence to jurisprudence, and history to literature.

Published by charlottecook

Charlotte Cook graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor’s degree in European History from Washington & Lee University in 2019. In 2020 she received her Master’s degree in History of Art from the Courtauld Institute of Art, earning the classification of Merit. Her research explores questions of royal patronage, both by and in honor of rulers, in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century England. She has worked as a researcher and collections assistant at several museums and galleries, and plans to begin her PhD in the autumn of 2022.

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