Photo of Professor Marion Gibson

Professor Marion Gibson

Director of the Flexible Combined Honours


I am Director of the Flexible Combined Honours programme, which sits in the College of Humanities, and am Professor of Renaissance and Magical Literatures. For administrative purposes I am based at the Streatham Campus in Exeter for much of the time, but I teach at the Penryn Campus in Cornwall where my specialist Witchcraft and Magic in Literature option is based. My research investigates the relationships between writings about magic and the supernatural and those about identity (national, local, sexual, religious and so on) in modernity – i.e. from around 1500 to the present day. I’m interested in meetings between cultures and disciplines, past and present, and how fiction and scholarly writing impact on and express lived identities today. I've just finished writing Rediscovering Renaissance Witchcraft (Routledge, 2017), a book examining the ways in which sixteenth and seventeenth century writings on witchcraft have continued to inspire modern literature, especially popular novels, poems and films in Britain and America, and Witchcraft: The Basics (Routledge, 2018), a student guide to the field. I'm also the author of Imagining the Pagan Past: Gods and Goddesses in Literature and History since the Dark Ages. (London and New York: Routledge, 2013), Witchcraft Myths in American Culture (New York: Routledge, 2007). Possession, Puritanism and Print: Darrell, Harsnett, Shakespeare and the Elizabethan Exorcism Controversy (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2006), Reading Witchcraft: Stories of Early English Witches (London and New York: Routledge, 1999), with Garry Tregidga and Shelley Trower, Mysticism, Myth and Celtic Identity (London: and New York: Routledge, 2012) and with Jo Esra, The Arden Shakespeare Dictionary of Shakespeare’s Demonology (London: Arden/Bloomsbury, 2014).

Research interests

My research is an enquiry into the British and American literature of the supernatural from prehistory to the present, focusing on witchcraft, demonology and magical religiosity.

I'm interested in literature from comics to the canon, and in web and fantasy fiction alongside the classics.




Research supervision

I'm interested in hearing from anyone who would like to work on literatures of the supernatural or paganism. I’m a supportive and enthusiastic supervisor who has been helping PHD students undertake their dream projects for 16 years. Send me an email and we can chat about your ideas...

Research students

Lucy Hilliar .

Other information

Tweets at:

Part of a collaborative AHRC-funded network 'Early Modern Discourses of Environmental Change and Sustainability' together with my colleagues Professor Nick Groom and Dr Ayesha Mukherjee.

I organised a conference on the subject of 'Mysticism, Myth and Celtic Nationalism' in 2010 as part of my AHRC-funded project. 

I also received a collaborative award from the Exeter Science Exchange for my project 'When Psychiatry meets Literature and Culture'. 

External impact and engagement

The ‘Mysticism, Myth, Nationalism’ conference in July 2010 (organised by Shelley Trower, Garry Tregidga and myself) included a public exhibition of paintings, poems and artefacts (on campus and at the Cornwall Centre, Redruth) many of which were loaned by the National Trust; a creative writers’ event showcasing the work of a local arts publisher (Fal Publications) and featuring Penelope Shuttle and others; and several public lectures. I have also delivered public talks at the Cornwall Centre, Lowender Peran Festival, the Historical Association, the Du Maurier Festival, for U3A, the National Trust, the Pagan Federation and the London Geekfest. My work featured in an Impact Case Study prepared for the 2014 REF and was nominated for an Impact Award in 2013.

I tweet as @witchesetc.

Contribution to discipline

I have been an invited or keynote speaker at the following conferences: 'Narrating Witchcraft', Erfurt (2016), 'Hexerie und öffentlichkeit', Stuttgart (2015), 'Witches and demons', Tromsø (2015), Medieval and Early Modern Studies Association of Korea, Seoul (2011), ‘Witchcraft Act 1604’, Durham (2004), ‘Hatred’, Chicago (2000). In June I will be speaking at the ‘Narrating Witchcraft’ event (part of the ERC-funded ‘Lived Ancient Religion’ project) at the Max Weber Institute, Erfurt. Other papers: University of Wales, Swansea; the Strawberry Hill Conference; Wolfson College, Oxford; The Western Conference on British Studies, Denver, University of Sussex early modern seminar, Oxford Brookes speakers series, ‘Britain and the Sea’ conference, University of Plymouth,  ‘Green Man’ conference, Trinity College Dublin, ‘Neo-Victorian Villainy’, University of York, ‘Regionalism and Representation’, University of Warwick.

I was ‘rapporteur’ for the ESRC on a project to create the Survey of Scottish Witchcraft database (2003). I was on the editorial committee of the Pickering and Chatto series English Witchcraft 1560-1736 (2003). I review and/or read submissions regularly: for Women’s History Review, Preternature, Renaissance Quarterly, Seventeenth Century Journal, Folklore, Social History, National Identities, Early Modern Literary Studies, The Historian, the British Society for Literature and Science website, Supernatural Studies, Modern Language Review, Acta Borealia, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Gramarye etc and read proposals and completed books for Routledge, Yale University Press, Boydell and Brewer, Continuum, Ashgate and other publishers.

I was Editor of the European Journal of American Culture until December 2009, and am on the editorial board of Revenant, a new peer-reviewed e-journal of supernatural studies. I organised the Mysticism, Myth, Nationalism conference in 2010 (see above).



I have appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Drive show, BBC TV Spotlight South West, Radio Devon, Radio Cornwall, Radio Scotland, Three Counties Radio, ABC Australian radio’s ‘Late Night Live’, BBC Radio 4’s series ‘Through the Courts’ with Clive Anderson, the BBC World Service series ‘Exorcism’, Tony Robinson’s Gods and Monsters (Channel 4/National Geographic, autumn 2011), The King’s War on Witches (Channel 5/National Geographic, 2012), Radio 4’s Open Book with Mariella Frostrup and Patrick Gale (August 2013) and In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg (November 2015), and BBC1’s The Big Questions with Nicky Campbell (April 2016) . My work has also been featured in The Metro, The Telegraph, Archaeology, The Express and Echo, Evening Herald, Devon Life, The Western Morning News, Whitby Gazette etc. I am regularly consulted by media researchers – e.g. a Radio 4 radio drama about witches, Ursula and Boy (2010), C4’s documentary The Pendle Witch Child (2010), a BBC One Show report on an archaeological site in Cornwall (2011), and the BBC’s documentary series The Real White Queen and her Rivals presented by Philippa Gregory (2013). At present I’m assisting the editor of the Royal College of Physicians’ members magazine, Commentary, with writing an article on witchcraft. I've published two articles on witchcraft for The Conversation, to accompany the films The Witch and The Love Witch.


I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, having undertaken SEDA/ILTHE training. My undergraduate teaching is usually as follows: Undergraduate modules: year 1: Foundations; Shakespeare and the History of Ideas; REinventions year 2: Renaissance, Reformation and Rebellion; Interdisciplinary Research Project year 3: Dissertation; Interdisciplinary Dissertation. I offer the popular optional module Witchcraft and Magic in Literature. I hold tutorial office hours 3 x 1 hour per week. I have taught on the summer school programme at Exeter for several years, teaching Chinese, Hong Kong, Indian, Malaysian, American and European students.

Modules taught


I was born on the Isle of Wight and educated at Northwood Primary School, Somerton Middle School and Cowes High School.

Academic Qualifications

PhD, University of Exeter, 1997;

M.A., University of Birmingham, 1992;

B.A. Hons. 1st class, University of Exeter, 1991