Queen’s to host symposium unpacking media representations of witchcraft

Augmented reality artwork in-progress, After the Witch of Malleghem, by local artists Jenn E Norton, Emily Pelstring, and Edie Soleil, created for the Witch Institute.

A week-long virtual symposium is organized from August 16 to 22 by The Witch Institute, a one-time symposium hosted by the Department of Film and Media at Queen’s University in Katarokwi/Kingston. The Witch Institute is a collaborative meeting space for people who want to share diverse understandings of witches and witchcraft and “complicate, reframe, and remediate media representations that often continue to perpetuate colonial, misogynistic, and Eurocentric stereotypes of the archetypal figure,” according to the organization’s website.

“We noticed a recent trend in witch-related media across television, film, music, and fashion where the witch is often cast as a feminist icon, and we wanted to understand the significance of this recent resurgence of witch imagery,” said Emily Pelstring, Co-Organizer of The Witch Institute.

The symposium constitutes seven planned events, including 18 roundtables, 14 workshops, and many exciting screenings, talks, and performances. It includes a lecture by Dr. Silvia Federici on the role of witch hunts in colonization and globalization processes; a conversation between the star of the iconic 90s witch film The Craft, Rachel True, and Dani Bethea about the representation of black femininity in witch horror; a screening and conversation around Anna Biller’s feminist satire The Love Witch; and an expanded version of the short film program Spellbound, with an accompanying workshop and raffled multimedia Collective Spell Package, curated by Geneviève Wallen.

“We suspect that this rise in interest in witchcraft and the reclamation of witch-identity is in part a response to the intensification of the conservative politics that we are seeing across the globe. If this is the case on some level, it is worth asking more questions about how these reclamations respond to the current conditions and what witchcraft and related practices mean for marginalized communities,” said Pelstring.

The symposium is free to attend for the public and is virtual, but ticket reservation is required due to limited numbers. 

“We hope that this week-long symposium effectively brings together voices from various communities with different approaches to sharing knowledge. We are hosting roundtables and workshops where scholars, artists, and practitioners of witchcraft will come into dialogue with one another. This can only enrich the conversations we have around the roles of media, spirituality, creativity, and political activism in our lives,” said Pelstring.

Visit www.witchinstiute.com for a full schedule of events and to reserve tickets.

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