Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies presents: WITCHES, SLUTS, FEMINISTS: EXPLORING THE DEMON FEMININE IN FILM
In art, literature, and film, the witch is a shapeshifter. She is a gruesome villain and a studious heroine, a spiritual guide and an enchanting seductress. The witch’s narrative can shift effortlessly, transforming her from vixen to hag and healer to hellion based solely upon who decides to tell her tale. But despite these disparate depictions, the witch’s presence is inextricably tied to patriarchal anxieties about powerful women and unruly female bodies: her representation always reflects or refutes societal perceptions about femininity.
In this illustrated talk, New School faculty member and author of Witches, Sluts, Feminists: Conjuring the Sex Positive Kristen J. Sollée will trace the witch in visual media from the early modern era through the present, examining her legacy as an icon of female power and persecution, and as a potent feminist symbol. Beginning with the 1922 Swedish film Haxan to offer perspective on the historical origins of the witch, the talk will include clips and analysis of Mario Bava’s 1960 film Black Sunday to examine what film theorist Barbara Creed calls “the monstrous feminine,” and TV classic Bewitched to offer visions of the “good witch” as the women’s liberation movement begins to coalesce in the early 1960s. Sollée will also use aspects of George Romero’s Season of the Witch, anime classic Belladonna of Sadness, Lair of the White Worm, The Witches of Eastwick and The Craft to analyze conceptions of female sexual expression, and Anna Biller’s The Love Witch to undress the witch through the female gaze.
By juxtaposing leading scholarly research on European and American witch hunts with art and pop occulture artifacts, this talk will delve into the complex legacy of the witch from past to present, exploring how the divine and demon feminine have been harnessed to both frighten and inspire diverse audiences for decades.
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