"All of them Witches!": Race, Gender, and Witchcraft in Popular Culture

Course Description

From the fear of women's independence and sexual expression to mistrust of ethnic and religious others, many fictional portrayals of witches have distinctly gendered and racial undertones. At the same time, in certain stories, witchcraft is a rare avenue through which women can become regarded as powerful authorities who pose a serious threat to white Christian patriarchy and its institutions. In what ways can the figure of the witch symbolize freedom, creativity, rebellion, and sisterhood? How do select narratives of witchcraft draw inspiration from non-white and non-Christian religious practices?

Throughout the course, you will:

• Explore how certain queer and feminist invocations of the witch figure in pop culture are influenced by specific indigenous, Latin American, West African, and African diasporic traditions of healing and spiritual relation
• Utilize an expansive and comparative rubric of the term “witch” to analyze other similar figures across various media (this might include writing that features the vampiric female entities and "black magic" practitioners of Southeast Asian folklore, and even the “magical girl” genre of Japanese manga and anime)
• Understand how the witch is reclaimed as a figure of empowerment by musicians, poets, artists, and other creators living in the afterlives of slavery, settler colonialism, and European imperialism
• Rethink the common notion that stories about witches are primarily about white women or are of white European origin

Works studied in this course may include: the fiction of Maryse Condé, Nalo Hopkinson, and Nnedi Okorafor; the poetry of Audre Lorde, Gloria Anzaldúa, and Barbara Jane Reyes; television shows such as American Horror Story: Coven, Charmed, Little Witch Academia, Sailor Moon, and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina; web-series such as Juju and MisSpelled; and films such as The Love Witch, The Craft, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Hocus Pocus, Eve’s Bayou, Valerie's Week of Wonders, and Suspiria.

You will engage with material primarily through group discussion. You may also engage with the material through short response assignments posted to an online forum or a potential final writing assignment emailed to the instructor.

This course will introduce you to a wide range of canonical literature authored largely by women of color. You will be encouraged to consider questions of literary form and aesthetics while also thinking critically about how global patriarchy and structural racism are deeply intertwined. You will hone close reading and academic writing skills by using textual evidence to support your claims. You are invited to share your viewpoints on overlapping issues of race and gender throughout the texts assigned in this course. Discussions will be conducted in an inclusive, productive, and respectful manner appropriate to academic study.


No prerequisites required for this course. This course is designed to be accessible to all high school students.


Two Sections Available to Choose From:

Online sections of Pre-College courses are offered in one of the following modalities: Asynchronous, Mostly asynchronous, or Blended. Please review full information regarding the experience here.

Dates: June 27, 2022 - July 01, 2022
Duration: 1 Weeks
Meeting Times: M-F 3:30P-6:20P
Status: Closed
Format: On-Campus
Instructor(s): Ashley Dun
Course Number: 10006

Dates: July 25, 2022 - August 05, 2022
Duration: 2 Weeks
Meeting Times: Online - Blended with required live sessions every Monday and Wednesday from 3:00PM - 4:30PM Eastern Standard Time (EST)
Status: Closed
Format: Online
Instructor(s): Ashley Dun
Course Number: 10250