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Shakespeare Studies: Shakespeare and Witchcraft

A guide for students and professors interested in the study of Shakespeare's life and works

Shakespeare and Witchcraft Resources


Books in the Stacks

Witches in Early Modern England

The Witches in Early Modern England project, led by Kirsten C. Uszkalo, designs and deploys strategically intersecting, innovative, and experimental digital tools to allow for robust searching and pattern finding within the corpus of texts relating to early modern witchcraft. Beyond that, its open-ended platform encourages further expansion by users, to push the limits of how digital technologies can enhance and inspire the academic interrogation of existing corpora.

Non-Shakespearean Witchcraft Drama

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Shakespeare and the Supernatural / Witchcraft

"Macbeth and the Three Witches"  Théodore Chassériau (1855) © Erich Lessing, Culture and Fine Arts Archives
When we think of Shakespeare and witchcraft we naturally think of Macbeth and the three witches who guide his fate; however, many of Shakespeare's plays have magical and supernatural elements woven into them.  Think of the fairies in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" or Prospero's magical books in "The Tempest" - and these are just a few examples of the many occurances of things magical, dark, and supernatural in Shakespeare's plays.  This page will assist you in finding some specific resources pertaining to witchcraft in the early modern period and its connection to Shakespeare's work.

Subject Headings


Subject headings are words and phrases which consitiute a "controlled vocabulary" to categorize books by subject field.  Subject headings often indicate the contents of books in terms that their titles do not use, which often may be very general. Subject headings in online databases are often referred to as descriptors, but they serve the same purpose in locating valuable resources. Using a "keyword" search will identify catalog entries that contain those specific terms which can add value to a search; however, the terms can be found anywhere - author, notes, publisher, etc. - therefore there is no indication of the value of the term(s) as content matter of the items in a results list.

Use general subject headings for searching a broad topic or more specific subject headings for a specific text, film, or play. You will find (more) headings specific to the subject category within the left-hand facets in our online catalog, Bobcat.  If you want to see the subject headings for a specific title in Bobcat, click on the "details" link in the title record.  Here are some you may want to try:


Witchcraft in Literature

Witches in Literature

Catholics in Literature

 Witchcraft -- England -- History

 Witchcraft -- Political aspects -- England -- History -- 16th century

 Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616 -- Knowledge -- Occultism


Cornell University Library Witchcraft Collection

Preternature Journal

Preternature is an interdisciplinary forum for the study of the preternatural as seen in magics, witchcraft, spiritualism, occultism, prophecy, monstrophy, demonology, and folklore. The journal embraces a broad and dynamic definition of the preternatural, since the very categories of magic, religion, and science are open and active registers that the journal strives to explore, contextualize, and challenge.

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