Witches Week Lecture Series: Witch, Who Are You?

Archives and Special Collections
A devil and a witch
Week of activities (online and in person) from Monday, October 30 to Friday, November 3, 2023

The Archives and Special Collections of the University of Ottawa Library presents a series of lectures exploring representations of the figure of the witch.

A creature of inherent evil, a wise woman, a rebel, or a victim… Who was the witch? And how does her presence across centuries inform our understanding of the past and the present?  Come join us to find out.

We'd like to thank speakers from a wide range of disciplines for sharing their historical and contemporary research and perspectives on this symbolic figure of the witch.


(English only)

Join Professor Novoa as he looks at the figure of the witch in the Early Modern Period, particularly in England. 

  • Date and time: Monday 30th October, 2 pm
  • Format: Online presentation only
  • Presenter: James Nelson Novoa, professor, Department of Modern Languages and Literature, University of Ottawa.

(French only)

In this presentation, we'll be looking at the evolution of the figure of the witch in literature at the end of the 20th century. Indeed, while the witch has long been associated with the devil, fairy tales, and childhood fears, various literary and historical incarnations of the figure seek to subvert the stereotypes associated with her and reverse her dichotomous representation at the dawn of the 21st century. By taking on the New History movement and counter-cultural trends, as well as feminist and post-colonial issues at the heart of the social discourse of the time, the figure of the witch takes a new wing and succeeds in occupying new spaces in the imagination.

  • Date and time: Tuesday 31st October, 12 pm
  • Format: In-person and online presentation
  • Location: Moisset Library, Archives and Special Collections, Consultation room (MRT 039)
  • Presenter: Maryse Sullivan, Senior Specialist, Educational Development and Digital Learning, Teaching and Learning Support Service (TLSS). University of Ottawa.

(Film in English. Bilingual animation after the screening)

This documentary takes an in-depth look at the witch hunts that swept Europe just a few hundred years ago. False accusations and trials led to massive torture and burnings at the stake and ultimately to the destruction of an organic way of life. The film questions whether the widespread violence against women and the neglect of our environment today can be traced back to those times. Part two of a series of three films on women and spirituality, which includes Goddess Remembered and Full Circle.

Please note that this film contains scenes that may be disturbing to some viewers.

  • Date and time: Wednesday 1st November, 12 pm
  • Format: In-person presentation only (No registration required)
  • Location: Moisset Library, Archives and Special Collections, Consultation room (MRT 039)
  • An animation/discussion after the screening will be led by Pascale Dangoisse, PhD candidate in the Department of Communication, University of Ottawa
poster of the movie Burning times

(English only)

In a Questions and Answers panel led by Kiki Keskinen, a 7th-generation Celtic Witch and founder of Canada’s Witch School, members of the 2021 Witch Institute Symposium at Queen’s University, Kingston, talk about the project and their ongoing work on the witch as a powerful political symbol and the proliferation of the witch in media. The Symposium brought together filmmakers, researchers, artists and academics who took a deep dive into the past, present and future of Witches.

The Witch Institute is a collaborative meeting space for those who are interested in responding to contemporary imaginings of the witch in popular and visual culture. It is a place to share diverse understandings of witches and witchcraft, and to complicate, reframe, and remediate media representations that often continue to perpetuate colonial, misogynistic, and Eurocentric stereotypes of the archetypal figure.

  • Date and time: Thursday 2nd November, 2 pm
  • Format: Online presentation only
  • Presenters: Kiki Keskinen, founder of the Witch School and adjunct Professor in the School of Journalismat Carleton University,Emily Pelstring, artist and filmmaker, Associate Professor in the Department of Film and Media. Queen’s University, Dan Vena, Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Film and Media, Queen's University. and Tamara de Szegheo Lang, Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Film and Media, Queen's University. 



Published in a controversial context, the Malleus Maleficarum was a huge success and widely distributed. The story of its creation and circulation reflects a certain image of witchcraft, including, for the first time, its feminine character. Based on the copy preserved in the uOttawa Library’s Archives and Special Collections, the conference will outline the birth of this landmark work in the history of witches, and its reception in Europe.

  • Date and time: Friday 3rd November
  • Format: In-person and online presentation
  • Location: Moisset Library, Archives and Special Collections, Consultation room (MRT 039).
  • Presenter: Kouky Fianu, Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Ottawa
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