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Between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries, some 50,000 people–mostly women, but also men and children–were tried and executed for witchcraft all over Europe and its colonies. In this seminar, we investigate through primary sources why and how this phenomenon developed, erupted, and ended in the early modern period, a period that included the European Renaissance, Reformations, Scientific Revolutions, colonization, and Enlightenment. We also examine the various methodologies that historians have employed and debated over the past decades to try and explain European witchcraft beliefs and prosecutions and their impact on society. Lastly, the study of witches and witchcraft will also inform our understanding of its place in the religious, political, legal, social, and cultural development of medieval and early modern Europe, as well as of its connections to the histories of European persecution, heresy, antisemitism, gender formations, demonology, magic, state formation, and race.
Grading: yes pass/fail option,
yes fifth course option
Participation. Short reading response essays (300-500 words) on readings and topics. The leading of a class discussion. A final 10-12 page research paper on a witchcraft topic of choice in consultation with the instructor
No prerequisites. Open to first-year students with permission of instructor
History majors and students with demonstrated interest in European history.
HIST Group C Electives - Europe and Russia
HIST Group P Electives - Premodern