Poppy Corbett, Anna Kisby Compton, and William G. PooleyNov 30, 2023
Creative Histories of Witchcraft
Cambridge University Press 2022
How can researchers study magic without destroying its mystery? Drawing on a collaborative project between the playwright Dr. Poppy Corbett, the poet Anna Kisby Compton, and the historian Dr. William G. Pooley, Creative Histories of Witchcraft: France, 1790–1940 (Cambridge University Press, 2022) presents thirteen tools for creative-academic research into magic.
These are illustrated through case studies from France (1790–1940) and examples from creative outputs: write to discover; borrow forms; use the whole page; play with footnotes; erase the sources; write short; accumulate fragments; re-enact; improvise; use dialogue; change perspective; make methods of metaphors; use props. These tools are ways to 'untell' the dominant narratives that shape stereotypes of the 'witch' which frame belief in witchcraft as ignorant and outdated. Writing differently suggests ways to think and feel differently, to stay with the magic, rather than explaining it away. The Element includes practical creative exercises to try as well as research materials from French newspaper and trial sources from the period.
This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose forthcoming book focuses on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.