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I have recently contributed a short chapter to a book on the theme of witchcraft  edited by curator Anna Colin.  The book (details below) will be published  at the beginning of 2013  bringing together material associated with a series of exhbitions and performances (Plus ou moins Sorcieres) at the gallery La Maison Populaire, Montreuil.

Print of devils, fools and the vanity of woman, from the British Museum

I am particularly interested and intrigued in the relationship – or lack of it – between the figures of the witch and the fool in the late 16th/early 17th centuries.  Basically, witches were associates of the Devil and were tortured, hanged and/or burned at the stake because of it.  This is well known.  What is less well known is that the Fool was also closely associated with the Devil – indeed, if anything, the idea of the demonic fool is much older, with roots in Trickster stories and other ancient folk myths.  Yet, despite this, the Fool was a tolerated, even respected public figure (e.g. Henry VIII’s fool, Will Sommers and James I’s, Archy Armstrong) throughout the worst excesses of the witch-crazes.  In France and other parts of continental Europe ‘fool societies’ developed in many cities that would organise annual carnivals and ‘police’ various aspects of social life – particularly citizens domestic arrangements.  The fool was also a ubiquitous literary character having been long-established in the demon/fool figure of the ‘Vice’ in medieval mystery plays.

My contribution – first draft attached here: Fool and witch – reflects on the strange similarities and sharp differences between the treatment of fools and witches and in particular their engagement with issues of gender and sexuality.

The book details are as follows:

Sorcières: Pourchassés, assumées, puissantes, queer
Editor: Anna Colin
Contributors: Anna Colin, AA Bronson, Vincent Simon, Angus Cameron, Maya Deren, Silvia Federici, Richard John Jones, Latifa Laâbissi, Olivier Marboeuf, Marina Warner, LW.
Publishers: Editions B42, Paris and La Maison Populaire, Montreuil
Release date: December 2012 – will be on sale on Amazon and selected bookshops in Europe from mid-January 2013
Language: French and English

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