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Witches at Stake: Legacies of Cultural Icon

Johns Hopkins University
Organization: GRLL - Johns Hopkins University
Categories: French
Event Date: 2019-11-01 to 2019-11-02 Abstract Due: 2019-04-20 Abstract Deadline has passed

French Graduate Conference - Johns Hopkins University

November 1st and 2nd 2019

Witches at Stakes: Legacies of a Cultural Icon

Keynote speaker: Robin Derby (Associate Professor at the University of California UCLA, History department

From the Malleus Maleficarum to Michelet’s La sorcière, and to Mona Chollet’s very recent Sorcières, the representation of the witch in French literature and society has undergone numerous updates and adaptations. These works, that first have social purposes, embody important sources of literary symbols and representations of a figure which serve to indicate someone who eschews religious, moral, or scientific norms. Moreover, voodoo practices and magic healing, those which differ from the representation of Christian demonic witchcraft, are crucial themes and cultural elements in the French-speaking world. The witch figure, as well as witchcraft, have been resurfacing in today’s French and Francophone culture, and it tends to offer new angles to address themes revolving around marginality. For example, this character, often -- but not only -- associated with women, invite a discourse centered on femininity and feminism in today’s world. Its reflections in arts such as literature, theater, or cinema, seem to bring together the social resonances of this figure on the one hand, and the literary fantasy built around witchcraft on the other. More specifically, artistic productions around these themes prove to be a favorable lens to observe the evolution of the witch from an object of persecution to a venerated symbol.
Since the number and variety of representations and adaptations of witchcraft are endless, our conference aims to explore the theme of witchcraft throughout French and Francophone arts and how the oppressed witch has become one of today’s important feminist figures. Our wish is to question how these marginal characters representing minorities never cease to be adapted to the changing religious, social and political needs and expectations.
We welcome proposals on works ranging from the Middle Ages to the 21st century that explore questions such as: how are witches and witchcraft represented in literature, film, and other arts? Why is there an ongoing fascination for witches and witchcraft? How are the social constructs of this figure reflected in literary works at a given time? How does the medieval portrayal of the witch nourish contemporary feminist discourses? What makes this figure so literary and socially adaptable?

Potential topics may include but are not limited to:
· Witches, wizards and witchcraft in French and Francophone arts and
· Religious repression
· Representation of Gender and Sexuality
· Marginality
· Fantastic literature
· History of violence and persecution
· Monsters, transformations and hybridity
· Voodoo, shamanism and black magic
· Demons and witches’ companions

You are invited to submit a 250-word abstract with key words in either English or
French by April 20, 2019 to our email address: frenchconference.jhu2019@gmail.com. Please include: a brief résumé, the title of your
presentation, as well as your name and your academic affiliation. Please send
any additional questions you may have to the aforementioned email address.


Manon Pagé