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2021/22 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

ENGL1310 Narratives of Witchcraft and Magic

20 creditsClass Size: 40


Module manager: Dr Catherine Batt

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

Pre-requisite qualifications

Can be chosen as a Discovery module by all Level 1 students

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module is open to all. It provides you with a valuable opportunity to develop skills in textual, historical, and cultural analysis by investigating a wide range of different kinds of primary sources. Meanwhile, the topic of witchcraft and magic allows us to research the changing history of gender, and to some extent race and class, in Europe, in ways which remain strikingly relevant to our own societies today.


On completion of this module, students should be able to:

-display an awareness of the history of European witchcraft before 1500
-engage with methodological questions concerning the use of a wide range of historical evidence, such as judicial records, medical texts, and literary representations
-develop interdisciplinary approaches to issues of cultural and literary history

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students should know:

- the overall trends in medieval European attitudes to magic
- key theoretical concepts relating to gender, power-relations, and the social construction of reality
- the complex character of a range of different historical sources for European witchcraft


Before Cornelius Fudge and the Ministry of Magic . . . this module traces the development of the concept of the witch in medieval European thought and literature up to 1486, the year when European discourses of witchcraft were crystallised in Jacob Sprenger and Heinrich Kramer’s Malleus Maleficarum (The Hammer of Witches), and then into the early modern period, for example in Shakespeare’s plays.

The module begins with the history of magic in the early Middle Ages, examining the complex nature of its association with witchcraft, including relationships between magic, health, healing, Christianity, and pre-Christian traditions. Later seminars explore the development in Europe of a culture of persecution of witchcraft, including the relationships between witchcraft prosecution and xenophobia, misogyny, and racism.

Texts studied will vary from year to year but will give students experience in handling a wide range of different sources. They may include Anglo-Saxon medical texts; Old Norse sagas; judicial records of trials such as those of Joan of Arc and Alice Kyteler of Kilkenny, Ireland; Arthurian literature; rewritings of Classical myths; Early modern and contemporary drama.

One week of seminars will be dedicated to a discussion of modern narratives of witchcraft and magic typified by the work of J.K. Rowling.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours179.00
Total Contact hours21.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Reading, seminar preparation and essay writing

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Feedback on assessments.
Contribution to seminars.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/06/2021 10:18:02


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