• Spectral Anomaly: The Disappearing Act of Bridget Bishop, Salem’s ‘Absentee’ Witch 1692-2018

    Nicole Dittmer (see profile)
    United States, History, Arts, Gothic, Performative (Philosophy)
    Item Type:
    Conference paper
    Conf. Title:
    Gothic Terror, Gothic Horror
    Conf. Org.:
    International Gothic Association
    Conf. Loc.:
    Lewis University
    Conf. Date:
    29.7.19 - 2.8.19
    Bridget Bishop, Case Study, objectification, Salem Witch Trials, American history, Gothic, Performativity
    Permanent URL:
    The Salem Witch Trials was one of the most tragic and excessively violent, gender-specific events in early American history. This article explores how the Trials and accusations of spectral evidence against women occurred as a method of sovereign oppression to subdue and displace the contumacious behaviors into visual spectacles of carnivalesque performativity both in 1692 and modern-day Salem. This research is primarily focused on Bridget Bishop, the first woman tried and executed at the Salem Witch Trials. Since Bishop was the paradigm for which all successive trial cases were modelled after, it was likely there was archival documentation, and modern didactic information of truculent methods of treatment. Upon analysis of the Salem archives and the presentation of Bridget’s examinations, I determined that she was stripped of a physical female form and forcefully transformed into the objective visual representation of the Gothic spectral, and immaterial, illusion. Through further “hands on” investigation I explored how modern society represents Bishop’s iconic role but was left bewildered. Salem offers a questionable visual display of many female characters and emphasizes the heroic roles the male witches played while failing to display, or discuss, Bridget Bishop. Although she was the baseline for all other witchcraft cases in the Salem Witch Trails, Bridget does not possess representation in modern Salem and remains a wisp of a memory. It was determined that in both 1692 and 2018, Bridget ceased to exist as a reference of violent human history but was replaced by the fantastical ghost tale of terror
    Last Updated:
    4 years ago
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