The Witch’s Body as a Narrative and Symbolic Tool


  • Ioan Pop-Curșeu Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
  • Rareș Stoica Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania


witches, body, narration, symbolic, visual arts, literature, cinema


This paper aims to propose an exploration of the corporeality of witches insofar as it has been used as a medium or nexus for narratives, or as a symbolic sign in various artistic forms and arrangements. The starting point is the highlighting of an antithesis, which is permanently nuanced and overcome in the long evolution of culture, namely between the beauty of young witches and the ugliness of old ones. A first section of the article focuses on painting, looking at works by Baldung Grien, Salvator Rosa, Frans Francken, Luis Ricardo Falero. A second section looks at the corporeal duality that characterizes witchcraft and its resolution in synthesis in Vasile Voiculescu’s short story Magical Love. The last section is devoted to cinematographic works and how they have incorporated in their complex visual and textual narratives an ancient representational and iconographic tradition with roots in Renaissance and Baroque painting and in the literature of Greco-Latin Antiquity .

Author Biographies

Ioan Pop-Curșeu, Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

IOAN POP-CURŞEU (b. 4.02.1978, Ocna-Mureş) is, since 2020, Professor at the Faculty of Theatre and Film, Babeş-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, where he taught for 15 years. He has defended his first PhD dissertation at the University of Geneva in 2007 (De l’homme hyperbolique au texte impossible: théâtralité, theatre(s), ébauches de pièces chez Baudelaire), and the second at the Babeş-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca in 2011 (Magic and Witchcraft in Romanian Culture). In 2015, he defended his habilitation dissertation at Babeş-Bolyai University and in 2016 he became a member of Academia Europaea, section: Film, Media and Visual Studies. His research interests are concerned with film aesthetics, art criticism and image theory, nineteenth-century literature and culture, as well as anthropological aspects of magic and witchcraft. He wrote around 150 articles on various themes, writers, and films. His most important books on the topic of witchcraft are: Magie şi vrăjitorie în cultura română. Istorie, literatură, mentalităţi (2013), Iconografia vrăjitoriei în arta religioasă românească. Eseu de antropologie vizuală (2020, in collaboration with Ștefana Pop-Curșeu), Etudes comparatives sur la sorcellerie. Anthropologie, cinéma, littérature, arts visuels (2021), Witchcraft in Romania (Palgrave Macmillan, 2022, in collaboration with Ștefana Pop-Curșeu).

Rareș Stoica, Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

RAREȘ H. STOICA (b. 24.01.1978) is a graduate of the Faculty of Theatre at Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, in Professor Miriam Cuibus’ class (2002). He devotes his life to the visual arts, loving equally the emotion of being on stage as an actor, of editing moving images captured with a camera, of playing with paintbrush on canvas and chisels in wood. He is a film director and producer with Persona Media Production, organizer, and artistic manager of the International Short Film Festival “ClujShorts”. Currently, he is a researcher at the Faculty of Theatre and Film, Babeș-Bolyai University.




How to Cite

Pop-Curșeu, I., & Stoica, R. (2023). The Witch’s Body as a Narrative and Symbolic Tool. Studia Universitatis Babeș-Bolyai - Dramatica, 68(1), 15–41. Retrieved from