Witchcraft

Photo of candles, wiccan diagrams and symbols

WITCHCRAFT/HNRC 4013H (004)
MONDAY-FRIDAY, 9a.m.-12:45 p.m., SPRING 2021
GEAR 129

The deadline to apply to our spring 2021 courses (via this application form) is 11:59 p.m. Friday, October 30, 2020.

View Witchcraft preview lecture here.

Magic is real. It enchants our worlds with meaning; it helps us to cope with lives that have become increasingly difficult; it empowers the marginalized to insist on revolution; and helps to explain the yet unexplained. Even if we don’t realize it, magic is all around us and we all benefit from its presence. In fact, the United States has long had a thriving community of individuals interested in those supernatural, mystical and magical worlds, known collectively as the "Occult."

In this seminar, we will examine the significance of a wide range of occult practices, including Ceremonial Magick, the New Age movement, Neo-Paganism, Wicca and Satanism. Students will begin to unravel the occult's hidden role in the formation of American society, especially as it relates to issues of class, race, gender and nationality. Drawing heavily on feminist theory and material studies, we will position magic as a meaningful cultural practice that is critical to understanding how people mobilize complex symbolic systems while working with non-human beings to manage increasing concerns over social inequity, global economic insecurity and distrust. Thinking about what it means to live in an enchanted world, students will seek to answer the question: What does it mean to be religious in America?

Course Credit:

  • All students: 3 hours of honors credit
  • Fulbright College:
    • Honors Humanities or Social Science Colloquium
    • Upper-level credit for Anthropology majors
  • Walton College: Honors Colloquium

 

About Timothy Landry: Timothy Landry

Timothy R. Landry is an assistant professor of anthropology and religious studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He earned his Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2013. In his recent book, Vodún: Secrecy and the Search for Divine Power (2019, University of Pennsylvania Press) Landry explores the ways in which ritual secrecy helps to propel West African religions such as Vodún onto the global stage.

Most recently, Landry spent six months in Bénin, West Africa as a Fulbright Scholar where he began a project focusing on witchcraft, magic and sorcery. In this project, Landry seeks to expand current anthropological understandings of magic by moving beyond the symbolic in order to consider the ways in which indigenous considerations of being and personhood shape and inform magical practice in a post-colonial society. In addition to his research in Africa, Landry has enjoyed a long-held interest in the occult. In the future, he hopes to highlight this interest in a new research project focusing on the magical lives of American and European witches.