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Capturing Witches: Histories, Stories, Images
400 years after the Lancashire Witches

Lancaster University
17-19 August 2012

Confirmed Keynote speakers: Diane Purkiss (UWE); Robert Poole (Cumbria)

In 2012, a year-long programme of events in Lancaster and the surrounding area will mark the 400th anniversary of the trial and execution of the first group of Lancashire Witches. A second trial occurred in 1634 and although pardoned, the accused were re-imprisoned in Lancaster Castle. The case of the Lancashire Witches and their supposed crimes interwove fact and fiction, local hostilities and more exotic ideas of witches’ sabbats that were usually associated with continental witchcraft. They became a cause célèbre, like the witches of Trier and Fulda (Germany), Torsåker (Sweden) and Salem (North America).

This interdisciplinary conference uses the Lancashire witches as a focal point to engage with wider questions about witchcraft: its definitions as maleficium (evil doing) or demonology in trials, the various traditions of witchcraft across centuries and continents, and the ways in which contemporary practice engages with these.

Capturing Witches: Histories, Stories, Images will focus particular attention on how witchcraft is theorised and represented in and through history and across cultures. We particularly encourage considerations of literary, musical, artistic and filmic representations of witchcraft.

We invite proposals for 20-minute papers and panels on witches and/or witchcraft which might address - but are not limited to - the following themes:

•       antiquity;
•       religion and belief;
•       Neo-Paganism;
•       the developing world;
•       human rights;
•       gender;
•       corporeality;
•       location;
•       ritual (ceremony, performance, magical practice);
•       childhood;
•       language;
•       law;
•       consumption ( dress, fashion, food);
•       the arts (literature, music, film, painting, dance, theatre, graphic novels);
•       the Gothic;
•       new media

Proposals for contributions which go beyond the conventional academic format are also welcome.

Proposals (paper: 250 words, panel/other format: 500 words) including a 50-word bio for each contributor should be sent to the conference team by 1 December 2011 to [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>. Decisions on submissions will be made by 31 January 2012.

Conference team: Charlotte Baker, Alison Findlay, Liz Oakley-Brown, Elena Semino, Catherine Spooner

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