What is the course about?
The course will examine the rise of the religious concept of ‘witches’ as both an ancient and modern construct through looking at texts and images. Religious/theological, sociological, political and economic factors will be discussed and assessed in attempting to understand the association of women with witchcraft.
What will we cover?
Women ‘witches’ in the Bible and the ancient near East.
Ideas about witches and witchcraft during the early centuries of the common era, and their enduring appeal in the Medieval period.
The course will also introduce the Malleus Mallificarum (1487) most fundamental text which constructs the idea of witchcraft, and crucially associates witchcraft with women.
The rise of ‘witch-art’ in the sixteenth century as illustration of the Malleus Malleficorum and Bible illustrations from Luther’s Bible.
The witch-hunts in Europe.
The legacy of witch trials and persecutions.
The modern witch.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
Understand the religious motivations behind the ‘othering’ of women and their classification as ‘witches’ from ancient times to the modern period.
Understand the active construction of the concept of ‘witch’.
Analyse a range of visual art relating to ‘witch-art’.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
The course is suitable for beginners and does not require any particular skills beyond an interest in the subject.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
The course will use both primary texts and visual art; it will be taught through lecture, seminars and discussion groups.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
There are no other costs. You may find it useful to bring notetaking materials.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
You might be interested in Ann Jeffers' other religion and belief courses this academic year:
HRS36 - Adam and Eve; Abraham, Sarah and Hagar; David and Bathsheba: stories and afterlives of biblical marriages.
HRS37 - Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, Leah and Rachel, Joseph and his brothers: stories and afterlives of biblical siblings.