Witchcraft. From History to Pop Culture
The fascination with witches developed in parallel in different cultures and languages and is unbroken as the recent iterations of Japanese anime and Disney live-action movies show. Due to the “power to create life”–connected with menstruation and birth–women have been associated with special powers in different cultures and centuries as already one of the very first artworks (the so-called Venus of Willendorf, from around 28,000-25,000 BCE) illustrates.
Exploring witch narratives means exploring gender perceptions and constructions. This class explores gender constructions based on how women have been associated with special powers in different cultures and languages with a special focus on the German middle ages and modern pop-culture. This course discusses the demonization of femininity as well as the fascination with it through the concept of ascribing special power to women.
With witchcraft as the focal point, this class explores the perception of the female as well as the two central poles of understanding the world in the medieval and pre-modern world: religion and magic. Students will explore especially the medieval and pre-modern images of women including the age of witch trials, a dark period of fear and defamation. We will explore how witchcraft has been narrated and explored in literature as well as in art.