The Salem witch trials were a miserable shit show, but Tituba’s ingenuity, subterfuge, and resistance was extraordinary. My essay about her testimony is now up at The Public Domain Review in their Conjectures series. While writing this essay I became fascinated by the power a story can have to create an oppressive power structure and also to disrupt one:
“Glamour, grammar, and grimoire all share the same root. The Inquisitors imagined in one testimonial after another that they saw the transformation from person to demon before their eyes, even as they clung more fiercely to the power in the illusion they held about themselves, that they were not the ones conjuring such nightmares. It was Goodwife Sibley who asked Titiba to perform that old English spell with bread, dirt, and urine to ease the suffering of the poor afflicted child Betty, but that moment glimmered back in court as Titiba’s idea, her spell, her fault.”
You can read the the complete essay here.
This is essay is included in The Witch of Eye, forthcoming from Sarabande Books in 2021. Other essays from this collection are also available online: