Online | Fiction | Novel | Reading Group

4 Weeks of Reading Witch Lit as Writers Online

Specifically imagined for the month of October, this eight-week, four-session course leads up to Halloween and seeks to closely read three contemporary texts that feature witches.

Books will include:

- Circe by Madeline Miller

- Bunny by Mona Awad

- We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry

We will thoroughly analyze each text and attempt to come up with a “Grand Unified Theory of Lit Witches.” The session will culminate in a streamed reading of participants' short pieces featuring witches that make use of (or oppose!) the course-generated “Grand Unified Theory.” The witch is occasionally solitary, occasionally evil but always powerful; she is a force in the world and in our cultural imagination. Approaching witches in our reading and writing during times of perceived powerlessness can connect us to our resourcefulness, our resilience and our unapologetic desires. This course is perfect for writers who want to explore how gender, marginalization and community impact power, how magic inflicts and infects prose, and who are very sad that a pandemic is interfering with Halloween. It's time to get spooky!

We will spend each class period discussing one book; during the final class, we will read for each other. Our discussions will be accompanied by short craft exercises that students will be invited to revise on their own, building towards a short story project that participants can then share with the instructor for feedback during an optional one-on-one conference after the final class. Participants are expected to have read Circe before the first session.

Note: Any ‘ Writers’ student can opt in to a 45-minute consultation with the instructor for an additional fee of $105, in which you receive one-on-one feedback on any writing that emerged from the course, including ideas for revision and specific line edits. Please email [email protected] after your final group meeting to arrange a consultation.

Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the Zoom desktop client so you have access to all platform features.


- Deep critical thinking about the ways contemporary authors write about witches

- Weekly prompts about witches that link to the texts

- (At least) one finished short piece regarding witches

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes


For each class meeting, students will:

- read one book

- write from at least one prompt

- participate in a discussion about the book

- some volunteers will read from their own pieces throughout the course 

Participants must have access to the three assigned books, either as physical copies or e-books.


We will spend each class period discussing one book, and each week students will be given prompts that students will be invited to revise on their own, building towards a longer writer project that participants can then share with the instructor for feedback during an optional one-on-one conference after the final class. The final session will be a virtual reading of everyone's witch pieces.

A. E. Osworth

A. E. Osworth is part-time Faculty at The New School, where they teach undergraduates the art of digital storytelling. Their novel, We Are Watching Eliza Bright, about a game developer dealing with harassment (and narrated collectively by a fictional subreddit) was long listed for The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. They have an eight-year freelancing career and you can find their work on Autostraddle, Guernica, Quartz, Electric Lit, Paper Darts, Mashable, and drDoctor, among others.


"WE ARE WATCHING ELIZA BRIGHT is a novel that takes on our techy zeitgeist at its silicon core. This is a novel vital for our time. It is about race and gender within white masculine worlds--particularly the gaming world. The characters are complex—the heroines are flawed, the villains are redeemable. The novel questions the entire ideological base of the hero/villain model in gaming and in the “meat” world outside of games. The prose is clean and expert; fun and smart. It is a fast read, but always deeply insightful. A book that will have cross-over appeal from literary types to pulp readers."

Tiphanie Yanique author of LAND OF LOVE AND DROWNING

"Austen’s writing is smart, funny, inclusive, and accessible. I know that when I’m done reading something they have written I will have learned something, I will have laughed, I will feel part of the community they are committed to building, and most of all — I will feel like I understand better."

Vanessa Friedman writer at AUTOSTRADDLE

"Austen is FANTASTIC. They provided great readings, wonderful resources, and created a real community in the classroom. I always felt respected and excited to work on the discussion questions in this class. Austen always made sure to keep us updated and on task, offered resources, and pushed everyone to be their most creative self. I also loved their cat in the background of some of the lecture videos!!"

former student online fiction workshop at The New School (2019)

"Austen is an amazing professor! Incredibly engaging and passionate for each topics taught. Austen always provides really helpful feedback and advice for each project we have done. Austen is one of the few professors you KNOW cares and loves what they are doing; teaching and inspiring students."

former student digital storytelling at The New School (2019)