A Day for Witches — In the popular imagination, Halloween is often associated with witches, so I have decided to write a bit about witches in today’s Monday Missive. Witches (and characters accused of being witches) have long played important roles in literature. Some of these characters conform to the iconic image of the “wicked witch,” but in many cases, they don’t. Often characters who are called “witches” are simply powerful or magical women, but they are not especially wicked. Witch characters have attracted the attention of several members of our English Department.
In her latest blog for the Recipes Project, Jen Munroe discusses the three witches in William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. As Jen explains in her blog post, these three witches have much in common with the women of the time who concocted medicines. Jen shows that recipes and spells have much in common. In her blog, she also discusses the role that these witches play in Macbeth. As she points out, these “witches are guilty of nothing more than ‘knowing’ (or foreknowing, since they merely predict his actions); they no more dictate Macbeth’s murderous ambitions than he can direct their appearances and disappearances.” Here is the link to Jen’s blog: https://recipes.hypotheses.org/8612
In their co-authored Macbeth: A Novel, Andrew Hartley and David Henson have also turned their attention to the three witches. As several reviewers have mentioned, the witches in this novelization of Shakespeare’s play are more fully developed than their counterparts in the play. In Shakespeare’s original play, the three witches function much like the chorus in ancient Greek drama, but in Andrew and David’s novelization, the three witches are more complex characters.
Witches figure prominently in many famous works of children’s literature, including L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. All of us who teach children’s literature courses have included such books in our courses, and several of us have written about them in our scholarship. Beth Gargano, for example, published an article titled “Broomsticks Flying in Circles: Playing with Narrative in Eleanor Estes’s The Witch Family” in the American Journal of Play.
In my research on the censorship of children’s literature, I have often commented on the controversies that surround such books. Children’s books that have characters who are labeled as witches are often often censored or challenged for various religious reasons. Although I strongly support the free exercise of religion, I also believe children should have the right to read these books.
In my opinion, Halloween is a perfect day to read whichever witch book you wish to read.
Kudos — As you know, I like to use my Monday Missives to share news about recent accomplishments by members of our department. Here is the latest news:
Matthew Osborn recently participated in the biannual Thomas R. Watson Conference at the University of Louisville where he gave a presentation simply titled “Surprise.” His presentation was part of a panel in which the speakers each took punctuation marks as metaphors for conceptual processes in writing and rhetoric.
Angie Williams recently returned from attending the 43rd Annual Administrative Professionals conference in Las Vegas, NV, where she participated in sessions on management practices.
Upcoming Events and Deadlines— Here is information about an upcoming event:
November 1 — Alan Rauch will deliver a presentation about his book titled Dolphin on Tuesday, November 1, at UNC Charlotte Center City. His presentation will begin at 6:30. A reception and book-signing will follow his presentation. His presentation is part of the Personally Speaking Series, which is co-sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the J. Murrey Atkins Library with support from UNC Charlotte Center City. The series is open to the public without charge, but attendees are expected to register in advance. To register for Alan’s presentation, please click on the following link:http://clas.uncc.edu/engagement/personally-speaking/dolphin
November 2 — On November 2, the Interdisciplinary Strategies of Activism will facilitate a workshop featuring AFRS faculty and affiliates, along with library staff and special collections resources. This workshop will take place Wed. Nov. 2 from 4-6 pm in Atkins 125 and Halton Reading Room. Info and free registration are at https://strategiesconversation.eventbrite.com
Quirky Quiz Question — One of my favorite witch characters is Elphaba Thropp. Can you identify the work in which this character appears?
Last week’s answer: Edmund Spenser
When writing All the King’s Men, Robert Penn Warren drew inspiration from The Faerie Queen? Who wrote The Faerie Queen?