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Supernatural seminars unveil legacy of witchcraft

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Published on 27 October 2023

Dr Amy Pearson, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Sunderland
Dr Amy Pearson, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Sunderland

As we head towards Halloween, the spookiest night of the year, academics from a variety of subject areas at the University of Sunderland are hosting Witchcraft Unveiled: A Series of Supernatural Seminars, on Monday 30 October, 5pm-6.30pm.

For some, 31 October, Halloween is celebrated as the Witches’ New Year, still acknowledged as a powerful spiritual milestone. 

The witch has held a place firmly in our imagination for centuries. Driven to pop-culture heights on platforms like TikTok and Instagram, ‘witchtok’ is captivating audiences worldwide with 30 billion souls investing themselves into this historical and modern-day phenomenon.  

Dr Amy Pearson, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University, is among those giving her perspective on witchcraft. She says: "My talk is called 'Burn the Witch’. I’ll be looking at the role that stigma and mass hysteria played in the hunting of witches. 

“Attitudes towards disabled people have historically interacted with societal responses towards the ‘other’."

On witches’ eve, University of Sunderland academics will also delve into why the witch is such a key figure in folklore and fairy tales on both the big screen and in books.

The event will explore the history of witches, their persecution throughout the ages and their portrayal in film, media and literature. Also why are crystals, tarot readings and witchcraft magic once again becoming a form of feminist resistance?  

Topics of discussion will provide an insight into the modules studied on the following undergraduate degrees: Criminology, Film and Media, Law, English and Psychology.


Jodie Weatherston, Lecturer in Social Studies, will be looking at witchcraft from the perspective of criminology. She says: "Witchcraft as a topic is deeply criminological. It relates to the gendered power dynamics which influence definitions of crime and punishment. 

"The concept of the 'Witch' is symbolic of how groups of powerless people have been stigmatised, labelled and used as scapegoats, which is still very much representative of the current global climate."

Witchcraft Unveiled take place on Monday 30 October. To book, click here