This research guide has been created for the Foundations Course entitled: The Legend of Wise Women: Witches in History, Law & Literature. Although this class focuses on a group of people, it's concepts reach far beyond "witches." Whether we realize it or not, much of our reality as humans is predicated on socially engineered ideas about what is right/wrong, moral/immoral, good/bad, acceptable/unacceptable—about what is human and what is not, what is “other.” Historically, women have been cast as “other.” This has taken numerous forms, and one of the more interesting and telling forms is their labeling as “witches.” This course seeks to examine the ways in which witches have revealed the engineered molding concerning acceptable humanity and the methods by which those who refuse or are unable to follow these limits are either returned to within the acceptable bounds or are “othered.”
Students will examine witches within the focused disciplines of history, law, and literature, as well as in economics and gender. By examining witches through these lenses, the ways in which society structures and carries out rules for human behavior will also be examined, evaluated, and questioned.