My initial idea was to research the representation of witches and mythological women throughout literature. How do these representations differ between male and female writers? Contrastingly, I’d like to look into contemporary effects of these representations, and whether the same idea of the witch has changed over time. Is it still used as a derogatory term with misogynistic connotations, or is the idea of the ‘modern witch’ being reclaimed?
I’d like to begin my research by reading about the history of witchcraft in the origins of classic literature, mythology and characters such as Medusa and Sirens. It would also be interesting to look into the male writing of the 19th/ early 20th century and the idealised feminine traits associated with nature, the occult and Wicca. In contrast to this, I’d compare them to texts of women writers of the same time period and how they develop over time, beginning with texts produced in the second half of the nineteenth century, when witchcraft was re-defined as hysteria, demonstrating the continuing and shifting significance of the witch in women’s writing. It seems to me that women writers of every era and political stance, in texts of almost every genre, replicate images of the witch, suggesting a unique bond between the two. I’d consider questions such as: To what extent does the witch alter or decline in significance for women writers as the period of study progresses? Does she exist for Christianity or does she form part of a (fantasy) rejection of it? How do ideologies of gender, sexuality and race inform representations? How do conventional ideas of the witch affect women’s writing? Does this qualify the relationship between witchcraft and the women writer? Are witches the monsters or the victims? And are witches feminist icons?
I’d like to look into the contemporary effects of these representations, and how the idea of the witch has changed over time e.g. how the witch has been both a victim and a victor throughout history, but is only now being reclaimed by women due to the rejection of the virgin/ whore dichotomy that society places upon them. How is this influenced by or reflected in modern literature, social ideology and media texts such as music, celebrity culture, film and television. Why is Medusa still depicted as a monster and not a victim?
I’d need to adapt and develop these ideas, perhaps limiting the texts I research being based in a specific time period or country, such as writing of a specific time period or geographic location.