EXTENDED: Twenty-First Century TV Witches from Charmed to Sabrina

deadline for submissions: 
January 28, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Aaron Ho / Beijing Institute of Technology Zhuhai

I am currently looking for a few more essays for the collection. The new deadline has been extended to 01/28/2019. The original CFP is as follows: 



Sabrina: I want freedom and power.

Prudence: He will never give you that. The Dark Lord. The thought of you, of any of us, having both terrifies him.

Sabrina: Why is that?

Prudence: He is a man, isn’t he?

Although dramatic programs on witches have been on television since the sixties, 2018 saw an unprecedented preoccupation with them. In addition to ongoing supernatural series, there are at least seven new witch-themed shows which started this year: The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Charmed, Legacies, A Discovery of Witches, Light as a Feather, Disenchantment, and Britannia.

Among the series, Sabrina stands out because of the unconventional and shocking representations of teenagers and witches. Most television shows on witches belong to the genres of humorous sitcoms or horror, a safe space or an eventual return to one, but Sabrina’s unpredictability constantly suspends viewers’ return to the comfort of safety. Sabrina is depicted as a young woman with ambivalent values. She is a kind person who is capable to slit a frenemy’s throat; an innocent teenager who is not conflicted about or tortured over or persecuted by her sexuality; and a sweet lady who sacrifices her soul for power and prays, “Praise Satan.” Perhaps it is her controversial adolescent identity and other issues that make the series popular with viewers and critics; It was once the most searched TV show on IMDB and critics from NPR to New Yorker have discussed it.

As suggested in the epigraph and the short description of Sabrina, dramatic series with the theme of witches involve the complex intersections between gender, sexuality, religion, power, and other matters pertinent to contemporary times. This collection of essays proposes to explore and examine the increasing fascination with witches in the twenty-first century by looking at post-2010 television shows with witches.

Besides the seven new series previously listed in the introduction, other primary texts may include but not limited to: Game of Thrones (2011-), American Horror Story: Coven (2013), The Worst Witch (2017-), Eastwick (2009-2010), Emerald City (2017), Every Witch Way (2014-2018), The Gates (2010), Good Witch (2015-), Grimm (2011-2017), Penny Dreadful (2014-2016), The Originals (2013-), Once Upon a Time (2011-2018), Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (2013), Midnight, Texas (2014), The Secret Circle (2011), Sleepy Hollow (2013-2017), Stan Against Evil (2016), Switch (2012), The Vampire Diaries (2009-2017), Witches of East End (2013-2014), WITS Academy (2015), Merlin (2008-2012), Camelot (2011), and The Evermoor Chronicles (2014- 2015).

Individual essays should be 5000 to 7000 words each (excluding notes and references). Essays should be original and used only for this collection. They should offer rigorous analyses and unique perspectives on witch-themed programs; and not rely heavily on plot descriptions or give away vital plot points. 

I have already found an American academic publisher and intend to submit the full manuscript by the third quarter of 2019. Once your abstract is accepted, you need to submit the first draft on May 1, and the revised draft by July 1. Given the timeline of the project, no extensions will be given once the abstract is accepted. Please submit your abstract only if you are absolutely sure that you can meet the deadline. Note that the acceptance of abstract does not mean that your essay will be included in the collection which will undergo a rigorous peer review process.

Possible topics may include but not limited to: 

Impact and Influences: 
-compare and contrast between source material (novels, graphic novels, films) and TV; between original and reboot 
-Genres: sitcoms, horror, teen, satire
-the influence of Hermione Granger/ Harry Potter on TV witches 
-Witches as metaphors and/or wish fulfilment 
-the influence of #metoo movement on witches 
-online streaming witches versus cable and network TV witches 
-how digital photography and special effects change narratives

-Anime witches
-Transatlantic witches

Gender and Sexuality 
-performances of femininity and masculinity 
-fear of feminine power and transformative feminine power 
-queer families. Why are many witches orphaned? 

Identity and Coming of Age 
-Many shows chose to set the narratives in schools. Why? 

Class, Race, Economy, Religion 
-Religion in the series 
-Race, especially the casting of Charmed 
-Why are many witches affluent? 
-The supporting (non-witch) characters’ socioeconomic status. 

Violence and Death 
-the interaction of vampires and werewolves (immortal beings) with witches (who are usually humans). The enmity between the three fractions, and the enmity within the fraction. 
-Witches’ proximity to deaths 
-Death spells and witches’ rituals 
-Distinction between life and death 
-Murder and killings

Please submit abstracts with 250-300 words and a brief bio to Aaron Ho (ho.aaron@gmail.com) by Jan 28, 2019.