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C4P: Steph. P. Bianchini - The Inquisitor's creatures: the historical roots of the witch trope a

Luna's third Call for Papers, A Shadow Within: Evil in Fantasy and Science Fiction will be released on Wednesday the 14th of August, at Dublin Worldcon. Explore the 21 brilliant papers you will find in the book.

Today, we would like to introduce you to Steph. P. Bianchini​, (Italy), Academic and social scientist based in Scotland. Historian by education and economist by profession, she also writes/reviews speculative fiction.

Presenting the paper: “The Inquisitor's creatures: the historical roots of the witch trope and its evolution over the centuries”.

Steph says:

"Very few tropes in fantasy are as powerful and evocative as the witch, whether the intention is to portray them as a powerful sorcerer commanding the power of nature and/or resorting to magic to influence human destinies, or as an evil creature connected with, or possessed by, demons.

There is no shortage of literature and movies that portray one or more sides of this popular myth. Yet, the figure of the witch has a long and complicated history, beginning in antiquity, leaving a trail of blood and suffering over the centuries.

This paper aims to explore the historical and philosophical roots of witchcraft --which is something more specific and time-defined than sorcery -- as it emerged in Medieval and Modern Europe.

Carrying out a brief exploration of magic in the Western world, from its beginnings up to the last public executions for witchcraft in the 18th century, it highlights the often elusive and changing character of the phenomenon, depending on the society and the period it took place in. It shows that, while "witches" (as generally intended) have a long and distinguished presence in the Western world as a whole, witchcraft itself, with its paraphernalia of pacts with the Devil, black masses, and so on, is a more modern concept linked to philosophy (mainly Scholasticism) and to the Inquisition's practices, which eventually led to witch-hunts and widespread persecutions."

Steph P. Bianchini is an Italian academic based in the UK. She's an Associate Professor and has been working over the last ten years on projects in social sciences, international relations, and humanities.

She blogs about sciences, speculative fiction, and history at her blog and has a book coming out in 2019 with Macmillan about the space sector.

She is a member of HWA and writes fiction under the byline Russell Hemmell. Her short stories and poetry have appeared in 70+ publications, including Aurealis, New Myths, The Grievous Angel, Space and Times, and others.

Follow the progress of A Shadow Within: Evil in Fantasy and Science Fiction on the "Books in Progress" page!


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