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 email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline to
apply is 2nd May 2023 (flexible).
Pre-decided panels include (we welcome applications to speak on all of these):
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.