Thursday 28 February 2019

MWM Conference on Isobel Gowdie Call for Papers

The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic annual conference this year is called Betwixt and Between: Isobel Gowdie, the Witch of Auldearn. It is on 18 and 19 May 2019 in Boscastle, Cornwall, and accompanies the MWM’s summer exhibition.

The MWM is now calling for papers from speakers from various disciplines, including: academics, poets, writers and artists. Themes that could be addressed include, but are not restricted to, the following:

  • Shape-shifting in witchcraft and folklore
  • The witchcraft trials in Scotland
  • Misogyny in the 17thC and beyond
  • Fairy Belief
  • Isobel Gowdie’s influence on contemporary witchcraft practice
  • Shamanism and Christianity
  • Sex with the Devil
  • Cunning Folk
  • Flying salves and Witch Flight

The MWM’s summer exhibition on Isobel Gowdie runs from 1 April to 31 October. Here is the background behind it:
On April 13th 1662, a woman called Isobel Gowdie gave the first of four confessions, witnessed by the ministers of Auldearn and Nairn and at least 12 local lairds and church elders. What led to Isobel being hauled before the magistrates is unknown but what makes her so remarkable is the content of her testimony. Never before were such vivid and complex descriptions recorded giving insight into seventeenth-century witchcraft and fairy belief.
This exhibition does not set out to describe the details of Isobel’s life, which are mostly unknown, or to detail the times in which she lived. Instead we present a poetic meditation on various aspects of the confessions. Tales of shape-shifting and becoming a Hare, of riding on horses made from straw while flicking ‘elf-shot’ from her thumb to destroy her enemies. Of feasting beneath the Downie Hill with the King and Queen of the fairies and of orgiastic coven meetings with the devil.
I shall go into a hare,
With sorrow and sych and meickle care;
And I shall go in the Devil's name,
Ay while I come home again.

- Isobel Gowdie

Guide for authors wanting to submit conference papers

Authors are invited to speak for 20 minutes followed by a 10-minute Q and A. If you would like to present a paper please send an abstract of no more than 200 words together with a brief biographical note and contact details to:

Deadlines for abstract submissions is 11 March 2019. Notifications of acceptance will be sent on 18 March 2019. The MWM is unable to cover travel or accommodation expenses. For any enquiries regarding the conference  contact:

The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic is at the Harbour, Boscastle, Cornwall, PL35 0HD.

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