Skip to content | Accessibility Information

Brick, E., 2019.

'When Witches don't fight, we burn!': Relations between women, magic and violence in American Horror Story: Coven

Output Type:Chapter in a book
Publication:Unknown yet

American Horror Story: Coven provides one of the most interesting recent examples of witchcraft on screen in that it represents such a wide spectrum of tropes of witches and witchcraft from both history and popular culture rarely found together in the same text. It depicts a diverse range of magical practice from innate powers, folk magic, voodoo, and spells that require the collective power of the group. It contains a range of established tropes of witches - a teen coven learning to control their powers, an aging witch seeking youth, a diabolic pact in exchange for immortality, a hippy aligned with nature and Stevie Nicks, all framed within matriarchal power structures led by the traditional good / bad mother mentor archetypes derived from fairytales.

AHS: Coven is a universe where (almost) everyone is a killer, power is female and witchcraft is framework through which discourses on female desire and monstrosity are played out. This chapter will examine the ways in which conflict and power dynamics are established in an (almost) all female text and realised through both magical and literal violence. It is rare to find texts where both the heroic and monstrous space are occupied by women. This paper will explore the ways in which gender, race and class mediate depictions of witchcraft and operate to structure relationships between women. In it's multiple representations of witchcraft, AHS: Coven produces a series of discourses on the nature of power and conflict between women.