New Material

Hello all! Recently some new literary readings have come to light that I am considering for the class. This post will detail the readings I have left that I wish to look at and why. (I may not get through all of them and will prioritize the ones I feel will help the class the most. Note that they are not necessarily ordered here by priority.) As of now, the “fun” course materials include: Conjure WifeWytchesHarrow County, “The Nightcomers”, and “The VVitch”. I will also be using excerpts from Diane Purkiss’ The Witch in History and Robin Briggs’ Witches and Neighbors. There will be a follow-up post soon that takes a closer look at the academic resources that will be paired with the class.


  1. Night of the Eagle directed by Sidney Hayers: The best adaptation of Conjure Wife. Watching the film will allow the class to analyze the differences between the characters in the book and on the screen.


  1. The Lancashire Witches by William Harrison Ainsworth: One of the first and most important novels about witches. The novel is a dramatization of the Pendleton witch trials, and I think it is therefore perfect for the class. Not only is it one of the novels upon which many others are built, it will allow the class to analyze the differences between the historical accounts and the fictional version of the story.
  2. “Feathertop” by Nathaniel Hawthorne: A short story about a powerful witch who brings a scarecrow to life. The story is extremely short, but provides some insight into a very basic portrayal of a witch and her ability to play with life. It also discusses who most of the time, real people are no more than scarecrow themselves.
  3. Witch House by Evangaline Walton: A classic haunted house novel that
  4. “The Dreams in the Witch House” by H.P. Lovecraft: A short story about a man who dies after renting out a room that used to belong to a condemned witch. Lovecraft’s tale plays on a darker version of the witch, one in league with devilish and otherworldly forces. However, it true Lovecraft fashion, it is not so much magic going on, but rather a dark alien force that threatens to undo the poor lodger. I have read this story before and like how Lovecraft twists a traditional witch into something more alien and weird. It is also one of the most well known genre tales about witches.
  5. “Vandy, Vandy” by Manly Wade Wellman: A short story about a traveler who rids a family of a male witch who has been terrifying them for centuries in an attempt to marry one of the women of the household. The story is interesting in that the witch is male and in a very short space it collects some of the more common tropes.
  6. Yankee Witches edited by Martin Greenburg: A collected of fifteen stories and poems that are all tied to New England witchcraft. The pieces speak to the American peoples need to fit even something as otherworldly as witchcraft into a more normal, domestic context. It includes a couple of very important pieces such as Edith Wharton’s “All Souls” and Mrs. Volney E. Howard’s “The Midnight Voyage of the Seagull”.



One thought on “New Material

  1. I love the idea of “Feathertop.” A little background on Hawthorne — as, perhaps, a mini-lecture — would be a good idea, so that they understand the context and the nature of his other works. You cut off the Witch House description — did you mean to leave me hanging? And did you know that Manly Wade Wellman was a long-time resident of NC with a cabin in WNC? Interesting connection. Keep up the good work!


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