Volume 4.1, 2008

Magic and Witchcraft

Letter from the Editor

‘The King o Fairy With His Rout’: Fairy Magic in the Literature of Late Medieval Britain–By Hannah Priest

This article explores the presentation of fairy creatures in a selection of Middle English and Anglo-Norman romance texts. Through an examination of the mechanisms of identity construction revealed in Sir LaunfalSir DegaréSir Orfeo, as well as Marie de France’s Lanval and Yonec, the author argues that, whereas human identity is constituted in flux and transformation, fairy identity exists in permanence and stasis, an inert catalyst for human development.

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Charity Refused and Curses Uttered in Chaucer’s Friar’s Tale–By Jennifer Culver

This article illustrates how the widow from Chaucer’s Friar’s Tale closely resembles the hag figure of the witch and analyzes the scene with her curses through the Early Modern English model of charity refused developed by Alan Macfarlane. Then the article analyzes the character of the summoner in the Friar’s Tale and the mediation of his power through a modified curse. This analysis leads to the conclusion that Chaucer’s early portrayal of a cursing hag represents a transitional figure and portrays a glimpse of a stereotype of witch that is to come.

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Orthodoxy Versus Radicalism: Authorial Agenda in Two English Renaissance Witchcraft Texts–By Jesse Dorrington

This article focuses on two early modern English witchcraft texts, The Examination and Confession of Certaine Wytches (1566) and William Perkins’ A Discourse of the Damned Art of Witchcraft (1608) and argues that despite their differences of genre, tone and radicalness these works reveal a shared authorial agenda and persuasive strategy. The writer contends that this shared underlying intent revolves around the elevation of Protestantism and the uniting of society within specific ideological camps.

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BOOK REVIEW: Magic in the Middle Ages (Richard Kieckhefer)–By Melissa Ridley-Elmes

Full Issue pdf

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