Thursday, March 01, 2012

Witchy Woman

I'm going to do my senior seminar next semester on early modern witch plays (and some historical context stuff).

Macbeth is on the list, of course. Because yay Macbeth.

What other plays (and in which editions) have you enjoyed or thought would work well in a classroom?

So far, The Witch of Edmonton is HIGH on my list, and maybe The Tempest, too. But there are lots (so maybe not LOTS, but some), and I'm aiming for, say, 10 plays that I can get in reasonably good, affordable editions.

I have a week to turn in my book orders (it's so early!). I know that's a whole congressional mandate thing, but it's obvious that no one in congress ever thought about teaching anything that wasn't constantly on the rotation or taught from a textbook type book.


  1. How about Henry VI, Part 1? Joan of Arc has some witchiness about her in Shakespeare.

  2. Shadwell's Lancashire Witches. It's sort of based on real 17th C witch trials, but it's really about Titus Oates. There's a lot to unpack.

  3. It might be fun to do both parts 1 and 2 of Henry VI: Joan and Margery Jourdain head to head!

    Does The Winter's Tale count as a witch play? At the very least, I think it's definitely in dialogue with them in some potentially interesting ways.

  4. Cool! I hadn't thought about H6 at all! Thanks! Fretful, why do you think of WT?

    And I hadn't thought of Shadwell, but it fits, too :) Thanks!

  5. I want to second Fie's recommendation of HVI Part 1. It's really fun to teach, but it is, at least at the universities where I have worked, almost never actually taught. So students haven't read it before in other English classes, and they haven't read it in high school either. That also means there are far fewer papers on this play for them to plagiarize, which is an added bonus.

  6. Well, Leontes accuses Paulina of witchcraft in 2.3, and three acts later she still seems to be very, very careful about the possibility of awakening those charges again ("But then you'll think -- / Which I protest against -- I am assisted / By wicked powers," etc.)

    I don't think we're meant to be sure that the charges are false, actually; the play is very cagy about whether Hermione has been alive or dead these sixteen years.

  7. Heywood & Brome's Lancashire Witches. I think there are also related pamphlets on that one, so it could be an interesting exploration of how "current events" become drama.

  8. I have no idea about witch plays, but WTF with the ridiculously early textbook ordering deadlines? My uni isn't as early as yours, but I make it a practice NEVER to observe their bullcrap made up deadline of April 15 for classes that begin more than four months later.