Extended Call for Papers: Theology, Religion, and the Witcher

Title: Theology, Religion, and The Witcher
Editor: Yael Cameron, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand

Andrzej Sapkowski is author of the Polish fantasy novels and short stories following protagonist Geralt of Rivia, better known as The Witcher. Since the early days of publication The Witcher has had a remarkable reception. The Witcher and its lore came to prominence globally when CD Projekt Red picked the story up for an action role playing PC game in 2007. The game series reached its apogee with its third edition, The Witcher: Wild Hunt (2015), an ambitious, critically acclaimed game, with its world built to a remarkable scale. It is said to be one of the most successful games on the market with over 28.3 million copies sold. While there have been on screen reproductions in the past, more recently the series has been realised by Lauren Schmidt Hissrich for English speaking audiences, via streaming service Netflix. The first season of this series had a perplexing start but the second season directed by Hissrich, Stephen Surjik and others has been received well by critics who applaud the strong storytelling and satisfying exploration of complex themes (Butler, 2021). It’s an understatement to suggest that The Witcher has left an indelible mark on popular culture.

Critics seem undecided as to whether Sapkowski himself is religious or not. Reports range from atheist to profoundly faithful. Sims (2016) claims Sapkowski openly identified as a practicing Catholic in an interview in relation to the premiere of the Polish film adaptation of the books. Regardless, critics agree that pagan roots of Slavic fairy tales, the legacy of the medieval church and the enduring presence of Catholicism in Poland today have seeped into the Witcher’s story in various ways. Religions and spiritualities abound in The Witcher, from the Sun cult of Nilfgaard to the magical beliefs and rituals of sorceresses, the brutal practices of the Church of the Eternal fire, various maternal cults, belief systems, gods, as well as notions of afterlife, and the presence of things sacred and evil. The Witcher himself appears as a kind of Elijah. He features as a lonely prophet-warrior anointed by destiny, or conversely, a messiah with no place to lay his head. Geralt is a tragic hero whose only remaining claim to goodness is his stoic refusal to budge from his hard won ethics.

This edited book is interested to explore a range of themes regarding, theology, religion or spirituality in the Witcher in either the games, novels or screen adaptations. This might include explorations of biblical and catholic themes, theology, ethics, religion and religious practices in The Witcher, and especially critical studies featuring feminist, queer and other critical perspectives. This book will be an addition to the Theology, Religion, and Pop Culture series (Lexington Books, Fortress Press) and while it imagines a broad range of readers, it will be of particular interest for those with an interest in fantasy genre and gaming, as well as academics interested in intersections between religion and culture.

Chapter topics could include but are not limited to:

• The critique of religion in the Witcher
• The problem of evil in the Witcher
• Predestination in the Witcher
• The representation of Catholicism in the Witcher
• Lion cub of Cintra: reading the messianic in The Witcher
• Sorceresses and Succubi: sexuality and religion in the Witcher.
• The ethics of Geralt of Rivia
• The body and the sacred in The Witcher
• Imago Dei: monsters and men in the Witcher
• The Witcher and the monster, an Edenic animal carnival?
• The monstrous-feminine in the Witcher
• The problem of the animal in the Witcher
• This issue of Sacrifice in the Witcher
• Warfare as sacred rite

Please send a 500-word abstract, accompanied by a current CV, to yael.cameron@aut.ac.nz by July 01, 2022. Acceptance notifications will be sent out July 15, 2022. Manuscripts are due on Dec 1, 2022.


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