Dr Helen Cornish

Staff details

Position Lecturer Programme Convenor: BA History and Anthropology
Department Anthropology
Email h.cornish (@gold.ac.uk)
Phone +44 (0)20 7919 7378
Dr Helen Cornish

My research examines how knowledge about history is negotiated between formal and informal histories. I am interested in how everyday practices contribute towards understanding the past – including rituals, material culture, the landscape, the senses and the emotions – as well turning to expert interpretations of archived materials. I have examined these issues by researching how modern witches and Wiccans have navigated the history of their movement. My research is partly located at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Cornwall, Britain. Out of my studies with witches I have also become interested in how magic is treated as an academic subject. My curiosity about how people think about the past has informed my involvement with collaborative research projects that examined the Antiques Roadshow and city ghost walks. I am the joint History and Anthropology BA programme convener and the Anthropology Placements Officer.

Teaching and Supervision

  • BA History and Anthropology (convener)
  • Anthropological Approaches to History
  • Anthropology of Contemporary Issues (Integrated Degree)
  • Anthropology of Public Practice (APP) (Placements Officer)


Book Section

Cornish, Helen. 2019. The Other Sides of the Moon: Assembling Histories of Witchcraft. In: Shai Feraro and Ethan Doyle White, eds. Magic and Witchery in the Modern West: Celebrating the Twentieth Anniversary of 'The Triumph of the Moon. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 65-83. ISBN 9783030155483


Cornish, Helen. 2022. Fashioning Magic, Fashioning History: The Past and Present of Modern Witchcraft. Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft, 16(3), pp. 389-397. ISSN 1556-8547

Weston, Gavin; Liber, Elena; Urdea, Alexandra and Cornish, Helen. 2022. Queue-munity engagement: Collaborative Event Ethnography at the Antiques Roadshow in Kent. Ethnography, 23(1), pp. 130-150. ISSN 1466-1381

Cornish, Helen. 2020. In Search of the Uncanny: Inspirited Landscapes and Modern Witchcraft. Material Religion, 16(4), pp. 410-431. ISSN 1743-2200

Weston, Gavin; Woodman, Justin; Cornish, Helen and Djohari, Natalie. 2019. Spectral cities: Death and living memories in the dark tourism of British ghost walks. Urbanities, 9(2), pp. 36-51. ISSN 2239-5725

Cornish, Helen. 2016. Not All Singing and Dancing: Padstow, Folk Festivals and Belonging. Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology, 81(4), pp. 631-647. ISSN 0014-1844

Aston, Katie; Cornish, Helen and Joyce, Aimée Edith. 2015. Plotting Belonging: Interrogating insider and outsider status in faith research. DISKUS, 17(1), pp. 1-13.

Cornish, Helen. 2015. Inside, outside and in-between: ambiguity, fieldwork and ethnography. DISKUS, 17(1), pp. 47-53.

Cornish, Helen. 2013. 'The Life of the Death of "The Fighting Fairy Woman of Bodmin": Storytelling around the Museum of Witchcraft'. Anthropological Journal of European Cultures, 22(1), pp. 79-97. ISSN 1755-2923

Cornish, Helen. 2009. Spelling out history: transforming witchcraft past and present. Pomegranate: the International Journal of Pagan Studies, 11(1), pp. 14-28. ISSN 1528-0268

Cornish, Helen. 2005. ‘Cunning Histories: privileging narratives in the present’. History and Anthropology, 16(3), pp. 363-376. ISSN 0275-7206


Cornish, Helen. 2019. Museum of Witchcraft and Magic (a small history).

Further profile content

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