Amsterdam University Press

The Place of Witchcraft in Early Modern Queer History

woensdag 25 november 2020 - 16:30
Facebook Live

Kit Heyam witchcraft event image

This talk will present a reassessment of the place of witchcraft accusations in the history of early modern sexual transgression. This event is organised in collaboration with the Early Modern and Eighteenth Century Centre at the University of Warwick (

Facebook live event

Due to the original, internal event at the University of Warwick (see details below) gaining a massive amount of popularity, the organisers have made the decision to change the format slightly to ensure as many of you can see the talk as possible.

Dr. Kit Heyam will be pre-recording a video that will be going live around the 25th November (date forthcoming). This video will then be broadcast through queer/disrupt's Facebook Live and Kit will be available during this broadcast to answer questions that you might have about the talk. These questions will be moderated and we will update with details of how this Q&A session will work closer to the time.

If you miss this Facebook Live, the video will be available to watch afterwards via Facebook and via queer/disrupt's YouTube channel.

University of Warwick event

For those based at the University of Warwick, there will be a discussion session with Kit on the 25th November (4:30-6pm BST) via Teams and details for this will be released internally. Aidan Norrie will be a respondant for this session.

If you have any questions about either event, please email


This paper presents a reassessment of the place of witchcraft accusations in the history of early modern sexual transgression. While it is well known that witchcraft was collocated with sexually transgressive behaviour (as well as with related crimes such as heresy) in medieval and early modern European thought, Kit Heyam argues for the concurrent development of an overlooked paradigm that used witchcraft as a retrospective excuse for transgressive sexual and emotional attraction. Drawing on the findings of their monograph, The Reputation of Edward II, c. 1305-1697: A Literary Transformation of History (Amsterdam University Press, 19/10/20), alongside the contemporary discourse surrounding intimate royal favourites in England and France, they demonstrate that early modern commentators used the discourse of bewitchment as a strategy to negotiate the problem of monarchs’ and others’ unwise, inexplicable or transgressive sexual and emotional attraction. Their paper traces the extent of this strategy, from same-sex attraction to interracial attraction – as well as the scepticism that the convenient ‘bewitchment excuse’ quickly attracted.

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