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"It's Witchcraft" Presented for Halloween at St. John Fisher College


"It's Witchcraft" Presented for Halloween at St. John Fisher College

In celebration of Halloween, St. John Fisher College will host "It's Witchcraft: The Legends and Realities of Witches," on Thursday, October 29 and Friday, October 30.

Sponsored by the Health Humanities Committee of St. John Fisher College, the event is a multidisciplinary examination of the continuing relevance of understanding the connection of witchcraft to contemporary medical issues. The event takes place in Basil 135 and the Midlevel of the Golisano Academic Gateway on the Fisher campus, and is free and open to the public.

Halloween, the day when pagans and early Christians believed the "veil between worlds" to be particularly transparent, is an ancient holiday in the west. The "It's Witchcraft" event will explore the history of witchcraft that has come to be associated with the Eve of All Hallows. This is a troubled history, for it is estimated that six million Europeans and Americans were executed for "witchcraft" between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries.

Speakers will discuss the history and persecution of witches in western culture; the connection between "witches" and the professionalization of medicine; continuing traditions of witchcraft as a healing and spiritual modality in non-western cultures; and representations of witches in popular culture. Panel discussions will feature anthropologists, historians, philosophers, literary critics, communications experts, and sociologists. There will also be student presentations and screenings of films focused on the theme of witchcraft.

The full schedule is as follows:

Thursday, October 29

(Location: Basil 135)
7:00 - 9:00 p.m. A showing of the 1999 film, "The Blair Witch Project," with discussion afterward led by Jeremy Sarachan, Department of Communication/Journalism

Friday, October 30

(Location: Midlevel of the Golisano Academic Gateway)
8:00 - 8:55 a.m. Presentations by students from the School Without Walls
9:05 - 10:00 a.m.

"Witches and Witchcraft: The Power and Uses of Evil," presented by Dr. John Rhoades, Professor of Anthropology

10:10 - 11:05 a.m. "The Witch in American History," presented by Dr. Carolyn Vacca, Assistant Professor of History
11:15 a.m. - 12:10 p.m. "The History of the Intersection of Witchcraft and the Rise of Male-Oriented Medicine," presented by Dr. Lisa Jadwin, Professor of English
12:20 - 1:15 p.m. "Is She a Good Witch or a Bad Witch? Wicked the Novel and Broadway Musical," presented by Dr. Barbara Rockell, Assistant Professor of Sociology
1:25 - 2:15 p.m. "The Burning Time: Witch Hunts in Fact and Fiction," presented by Dr. Tim Madigan, Assistant Professor of Philosophy
2:30 - 3:30 p.m. "Witchcraft and Social Conflict in East Africa," presented by Dr. David Baranov, Associate Professor of Sociology
3:30 - 5:30 p.m. A showing of the 1922 classic film, "Witchcraft Through the Ages," directed by Benjamin Christensen
5:30 - 6:30 p.m. Dinner Break
6:30 - 8:30 p.m. A showing of the 1968 classic film, "The Witchfinder General" (also known as "Edgar Allan Poe's 'The Conqueror Worm'"), directed by Michael Reeves and starring Vincent Price
8:30 - 9:00 p.m. Discussion of the movie

Funding for this event has been provided by the Office of the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at St. John Fisher College, and the New York Council for the Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

For more information, please contact Dr. Tim Madigan, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, at (585) 415-5925 or

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the New York Council for the Humanities or National Endowment for the Humanities.

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