Date of Award

12-2008

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department

History

Advisor

Smith, Christa

Committee Member

Shockley , Megan

Committee Member

Howard , Lance

Abstract

This thesis compares the Wiccan faith with fantasy literature of the twentieth century in an effort to reveal the spread of radical feminist thought between 1963 and 1983 by examining how these groups represented the shared figure of the witch. By comparing these different representations it may be determined whether radical feminist thought was promoted through fantasy literature. If the figure of the witch did become radically feminist in this popular setting then this would indicate a broader acceptance of radical feminist thought in American culture. This is examined by establishing a definition of fantasy literature during the late twentieth century, looking at what the traditional figure of the witch represented and how the Wiccan faith under the influence of radical feminism initially altered this representation, and then comparing that with the figure of the witch found in fantasy literature. Evidence has been drawn from newspapers, fantasy literature depicting witches, speeches and interviews given by the authors, and important texts within the Wiccan community. This thesis challenges academic perceptions that popular culture is unworthy of study by showing how a popular form of literature helped spread radical feminist thought beyond the confines of the feminist movement. This was accomplished through the shared figure of the witch that underwent a radical transformation during the second half of the twentieth century. As a transitioning figure during a time of great social upheaval the witch represents a lasting legacy of change in American culture during this period.

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