Episode 6: Hocus Pocus

Happy harvest moon! In this episode, we dance all night to the classic Halloween flick Hocus Pocus (1993).

Our theme song is “Moon and Spruce” by Sarah Littledrum.

Here’s a listening guide for the episode. (For a description of our segments, go here.)

Introduction (0:00 – 3:10)

Which Craft? (3:15 – 15:06)

  • Our nostalgia for the 1990s
  • Characteristics of 90s movies: likable anti-heroes, high-stakes comedy, frame story
  • CGI and practical effects
  • Faux 17th-century accents, time travel, and funny anachronisms
  • Comedic subversion of horror tropes
  • Parallels to other stories/ films

“Are You a Good Witch or a Bad Witch?” (15:13 – 29:20)

  • Lots of awesome, dynamic female characters and only one (or two?) male protagonists
  • Max’s non-toxic performance of masculinity (especially after the girls teach him to be better)
  • Sibling relationship as the main focus; trio of heroes working as a team
  • Max’s transitions as a character
  • Portrayals of sexuality: Max as virgin/ ingénue, girls are more knowledgeable/ comfortable in their bodies, Sarah’s relationship with her sexuality
  • Portrayal of the children’s parents

“Bald Heads and Queer Noses” (29:25 – 48:30)

  • The witches’ bodies as the source for the film’s plot/ conflict and their feelings about their physical appearance
  • Significance of Billy the Zombie (man silenced by a woman, no blame assigned to Sarah for Billy’s infidelity)
  • Male characters lose their clothes (or they get torn) while the girls’ clothing remains intact and functional
  • Bodies as text: the spell book made from human skin (with an eye, possibly sentient);  marking your identity on your body or through your clothing
  • Mary’s sense of smell

Related Links

“What if We Cultivated Our Ugliness? or: The Monstrous Beauty of Medusa”

“‘Toddler Grandma Style,’ The Fashion Approach That Will Set You Free”

“Round About the Cauldron Go” (48:35 – 1:14:42)

  • Importance of the New England setting (maple leaves and fall)
  • Origins of Halloween and the intersection with Salem and colonialism
  • Binx the cat
  • The witches’ relationship with nature (plus speculation about the witches’ origins, their mother, and their relationship to immortal figures like Hecate and the devil)
  • Discussion of symbols and how the meaning of signs is dependent on context
  • The film’s portrayal of the afterlife and the soul
  • The witches’ psychosomatic pain
  • Clash of belief systems: science and technology  vs. magic and nature
  • Max’s witchcraft and Alison’s witchcraft
  • The preservation of the Sanderson house as a museum

Related Links

History of Halloween

Final Spells ( 1:14:46 – 1:20:00)

  • The title of the film
  • The witches’ adaptability

Episode 5: Outlander

Happy full moon! In this episode, we dive into Outlander by Diana Gabaldon–and a little bit into the television adaptation as well.

Content warning: rape, sexual assault, domestic abuse, torture, homophobia

Our theme song is “Moon and Spruce” by Sarah Littledrum.

Here’s a listening guide for the episode. (For a description of our segments, go here.)

Introduction (0:00 – 2:40)

Which Craft? (3:03 – 18:01)

  • First impressions
  • Genre expectations and subversions
  • Gabaldon’s process
  • Writing dialect
  • The book’s structure (plus some musings about time travel)
  • Foreshadowing and parallel moments

Related Links

Romance: Genre Expectations and Fantasy Fulfillment (Writing Excuses podcast)

About the Romance Genre (Romance Writers of America)–this is a better definition than the one Katie provides in the episode

Scottish Accents in Outlander (YouTube video)

“Are You a Good Witch or a Bad Witch?” (18:06 – 41:45)

  • Traditional gender roles and departures
  • Jamie’s performance of masculinity vs. Arthur, Dougal, and other Scotsmen
  • Domestic abuse
  • Consent in marriage
  • The changing concept of race

Related Links

Scottish People React to Outlander (YouTube video)

Women in Early Modern Scotland

What is Whiteness? (New York Times)

Marble Statues and Whitewashing History (Vice)

“Bald Heads and Queer Noses” (41:49 – 1:08:51)

  • Jamie’s rape and the text’s treatment of homosexuality
  • Disability and adaptability (Colum, Hugh, Ian, etc.)
  • Jamie’s scars and his relationship to his body
  • Physical manifestations of emotional trauma (the body as text!)
  • Jamie’s hand (and Claire’s)

Related Links

Twitter Thread about Male Violence

What Do We Mean When We Say “Toxic Masculinity”?

“Treguna, Makoidees, Trecorum, Satis, Dee!” (1:08:55 – 1:19:55)

  • Defining witchcraft
  • Druids and Mrs. Graham
  • Claire as witch
  • Geillis as witch
  • Different types of knowledge (vs. superstitions)

“Round About the Cauldron Go” (1:19:58 – 1:34:30)

  • Claire’s role as healer and her connection to nature
  • Jamie’s connection to nature
  • Jamie’s healing process and rebirth

Related Links

Native Healing and the Medicine Wheel (Native Voices)

Final Spells (1:34-34 – 1:36:43)

  • The Loch Ness Monster!?!?

Blooper Reel (1:37:41 – 1:38:00)

Our next episode will be about Hocus Pocus (1993 film). See you on October 5! (Don’t light the black flame candle!)

Minisode 1: Salem Witch Museum

Today, to celebrate the new moon and solar eclipse, we’re bringing you a very special minisode about Claire’s visit to the Salem Witch Museum. We also share some thoughts about modern witch hunts (in the forms of racism and xenophobia, especially) and how to foster greater understanding in the face of difference. We at Witches in Britches condemn white supremacy and bigotry in all forms and encourage you to take a stand against intolerance and hate wherever it is found in your communities.

Our theme song is “Moon and Spruce” by Sarah Littledrum.

Related Links

Salem Witch Museum

Tituba and Your Fear of Witches

Stuff You Should Know: Is a Head Transplant Really a Thing?

Stuff You Should Know: What is Collective Hysteria?

Stuff You Should Know: How Witchcraft Works

Resources for Combatting White Supremacy

NPR: A Reformed White Nationalist Speaks Out on Charlottesville

Life After Hate

Ijemoa Oluo: So You Want to Fight White Supremacy

Katherine Fisher: Facebook Post

Secret Feminist Agenda (Hannah McGregor): Taking Up Space and Feeling Safe Again

Katie’s Blog Post: Don’t Be Complicit

Solar Eclipse Fun

NPR: Rituals to Sprinkle A Little Magic Into Your Eclipse Experience

Stuff to Blow Your Mind: Gazing Into the Eclipse

Our next episode, about Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, will air September 6. See you then!

Episode 4: Equal Rites

Happy full moon–and lunar eclipse! For our fourth episode, we’re throwing it back to a classic: Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett.

Our theme song is “Moon and Spruce” by Sarah Littledrum.

Here’s a listening guide for the episode. (For a description of our segments, go here.)

Introduction (0:00 – 3:20)

Which Craft? (3:20 – 29:35)

“Are You a Good Witch or a Bad Witch?” (29:35 – 47:46)

  • Reading magic through gender identity
  • Reading magic as socially assigned labor

Related Links

Traditional Gender Hierarchy*

Male as Norm

Gender Master List: A Glossary of Gender Identities

“Bald Heads and Queer Noses” (47:47 – 1:00:15)

  • Decoding bodies through visual cues, especially clothing (#robegate)
  • Racebending and the benefits and drawbacks of foregoing racial signals

“Round About the Cauldron Go” (1:00:15 – 1:18:00)

  • Connection between magic and the natural world (bees!)
  • Real world magic (headology and the power of will)
  • More bees!

Final Spells (1:18:10 – 1:24:00)

Blooper Reel (1:25:00 – 1:26:50)

*Relevant quote from source above: “Women have traditionally been associated with the senses in Western culture, and in particular, with the ‘lower’ senses. Women are the forbidden taste, the mysterious smell, the dangerous touch. Men, by contrast, have been associated with reason, as opposed to the senses, or else with sight and hearing as the most ‘rational’ of the senses” (Constance Classen, The Color of Angels: Cosmology, Gender, and the Aesthetic Imagination, 1-2).

Next month (Sep. 6) we’ll be discussing Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. See you then!

Episode 3: Wonder Woman

For our third episode, we are excited to bring you our discussion of the 2017 film Wonder Woman! There will definitely be spoilers. (There are also spoilers for Captain America: The First Avenger.)

Here’s a listening guide for the episode. (For a description of our segments, go here.)

Introduction (0:00 – 7:13)

  • Amazons as witches
  • Brief history of the Amazons
  • Significance of the Wonder Woman film

Related Links

The Amazon Women: Is There Any Truth Behind the Myth? (Smithsonian Magazine)

Ukraine’s Asgarda: Reinventing the Amazon Warrior Women

The Strange, Complicated, Feminist History of Wonder Woman’s Origin Story

Wonder Woman Breaks Records: Biggest Live-Action Box Office Hit by Female Director

Which Craft? (7:17 – 21:54)

  • Filmography and stylistic choices/ visuals
  • Costumes
  • Score
  • Screenplay and structure
  • Casting

NB: One thing we meant to talk about, but didn’t get to, was how much of a role Chris Pine/ Steve Trevor was given, considering he was the love interest/ sidekick. (See McDorman’s review, linked below, for more about how Trevor is centered in the story.*) We also forgot to talk about Robin Wright!!! Nooooo!

Related Links

Wonder Woman: Armor vs. Underwear & Why it Matters

Wonder Woman’s Amazon Origins Detailed in New Movie Art

Joss Whedon and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Script

*Is Diana Really the Hero of Wonder Woman? A Review by G.L. McDorman

“Are You a Good Witch or a Bad Witch?” (21:58 – 39:55)

  • Representation of people of color and minorities
  • Representation of women in the film
  • Female villainy
  • Diana’s characterization

Related Links

My Soul Looks Back and Wonders: A Critical Examination of the Wonder Woman Movie

Eugene Brave Rock Reveals Chief is a Demi-God Too

Black Panther Teaser Trailer

“Bald Heads and Queer Noses” (40:00 – 53:05)

  • Ares (and his hipster mustache)
  • Steve Trevor (and his nudity scene)
  • Amazons (and their non-sexualized skin)
  • Lesbian and bisexual representation
  • Body positivity
  • Working bodies and scars
  • Disability and disfigurement

Related Links

How Disfigured Villains like “Wonder Woman’s” Dr. Poison Perpetuate Stigma

“Round About the Cauldron Go” (53:10 – 1:03:49)

  • Dr. Poison as witch figure
  • Chemical warfare and drugs
  • Women in science
  • Ares’s environmental argument

“Treguna, Makoidees, Trecorum, Satis, Dee!” (1:03:55 – 1:16:41)

  • Creation of the Amazons
  • Creation of Diana
  • Diana’s self-discovery and empowerment
  • Parallels to the Eve and Satan story
  • Parallels to the Goddess Artemis/ Diana
  • Love as the central theme

Final Spells (1:16:45 – 1:27:12)

  • Amazon Queen Hiera
  • Women’s activism today

Related Links

The 11 Biggest Marches and Protests in American History

Race and Feminism: Women’s March Recalls the Touchy History

Women Warriors: Myths and Legends of Heroic Women

Penthesilea (the Amazon who fought at Troy)

Wonder Women Have Been Smashing the Patriarchy Since Classical Times

Blooper reel (1:27:07 – 1:28:41)

  • Literally just a minute of us laughing

 

In August we’re discussing Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett. See you on the next full moon (Aug 7)!

Episode 2: Akata Witch

Happy full moon! Our second episode is a discussion of Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor.

Here are some links and resources you might find useful:

Non-Traditional Plot Structure

African Storytelling: Rethinking the 3-Act Structure

Plot Without Conflict (Kishōtenketsu)

Interview with Mercy Akide-Udoh

Serena Williams wins the Australian Open while pregnant

Becca Long: First woman to receive a college football scholarship

AllNigerianRecipes.com

Jainism

Next month, we’re doing Wonder Woman! The episode will be posted on July 9. See you then!

Episode 1: A Discovery of Witches

Our first episode is a discussion of A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. We would like to dedicate it to Marcelle Kosman and Hannah McGregor of Witch, Please. Thanks for inspiring us!

Trigger warning: assault, rape, domestic violence

Note: As writers and creators, we know how difficult it is to produce good art. Our comments are not meant to belittle or censure. Rather, we believe in deconstructing and critiquing the things we love, and we hope that our attempt to engage critically with these texts can help our listeners generate productive discussions and insights about themselves and the social structures in which they operate. Please feel free to join the conversation on our Twitter page!

Here are some links and resources you might find useful:

Violence Against Women (womenshealth.gov)

Is This Abuse? (loveisrespect.org)

Bechdel-Wallace Test

Sexy Lamp Test

Katie’s Blog Post: Improving Female Representation in Fiction

Next month, we will be discussing Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor. The episode will be posted on June 9. We hope to see you then!