SALEM STATE COLLEGE

Department of History

Magic and Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe

HIS 361-01  (MWF 12:30-1:20)

Professor Emerson W. Baker                                                          Office Hours:M1:20-1:50                  

Office: Sullivan 109b                                                                         WF 10:30-11:45

                                                                                                         Or by appointment

                                                           

Who will go down to the shady groves

                                                            And summon the shadows there

                                                            And tie a ribbon on those sheltering arms

                                                            In the springtime of the year?

                                                                                                            Loreena McKennitt

                                                                                                            The Mummers' Dance

Introduction

 

The course will intensively examine the topic of witchcraft and magic, in early modern Europe, focusing on the rise and fall of the “witch hunt” that saw over 100,000 prosecuted for this crime.  This course will place the trials in a broad context by examining the religious, social, cultural, economic and political trends of the era. We will examine the relationship between witchcraft and gender as well as ethnicity. We will include in our survey the outbreaks of witchcraft in the colonial world – specifically New England. Since the 1970s, this topic has become one of intense historical interest, as scholars try to weave their own scholarly interests and interpretations into the historiography. It is also a subject of fascination for the general public, especially in the Salem area. We will explore many aspects of witchcraft, and hopefully debunk a popular few myths along the way.

 

Course Objectives

 

The course will give you a detailed understanding of early modern society, in particular, the aspects of that society related to witchcraft, and magic. In building our picture, we will cover a range of topics, from religion and gender, to ethnicity and popular culture. In addition to these content objectives, in this course you will have the opportunity to develop skills necessary for the historian, or anyone, for that matter: critical reading, thinking and writing.

 

Course Grade

Internet Paper                           5%

Haunted Happenings Paper      15%

Lithobolia Paper                       20%

Midterm Exam                          25%

Final Exam                               25%

Attendance & Participation       10%

                       

Course requirements and responsibilities

1. Required Reading:

Levack, Brian. The Witch-hunt in Early Modern Europe. London and New York: Longman, 1987.

Boyer, Paul and Stephen Nissenbaum. Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft.

Cambridge, Mass.:  Harvard University Press, 1974.

Oldridge, Darren, ed. The Witchcraft Reader. London and New York: Routledge, 2002.

Plus: readings on reserve or on the web

2. One mid-term examination.  I tend to stress materials covered in my lectures in the exams, but you should have a firm grip on all the reading.

3. A final examination. The final covers material from the entire semester, but will be weighted toward materials covered after the second exam.

4. Class Participation and attendance. You need to come to class having done the reading, and being prepared to participate.

5. Three written assignments:

a. Internet Assignment. (5% of grade) Your task is to go on-line on the World Wide Web and to write a brief critique of two sites related to this course (approximately 3 pages)

b. A review of Haunted Happenings in Salem (15% of grade) After seeing “Witch City” and reading Salem Possessed, go explore some of the sites and events of Haunted Happenings. How does the celebration square with what you have learned about witchcraft (approximately 5 pages)

c. A critical reading of one case of witchcraft: Lithobolia: The Stone Throwing Devil (20% of grade). Two contemporary accounts of this unusual 1682 case survive. You will give a close reading of these texts, and try to figure out exactly what is happening in the case.  (approximately 7 pages)

            Paper Mechanics: All papers are to be typed or word-processed, double spaced, with one inch margins. The more effectively you communicate your historical ideas, the more responsive your audience will be to them. Sloppy, poorly written papers distracts your readers, which usually means a lower grade than your good ideas would otherwise deserve. Remember, great history is also good literature. Remember too, the official college policy on minimum writing standards means than I cannot give a grade of "C" or above unless your paper has all of the following:

 

1.  A clear and readily identifiable thesis statement.

2. A clear and coherent overall structure.

3. Paragraphs with topic sentences and adequate, specific development.

4. Standard but varied sentence structure and development.

5. Standard usage, punctuation, and spelling.

6. Accurate documentation when necessary.

Papers are due in class on the due date listed above  I will not look kindly upon late papers, and all later papers will be marked down - the later the paper, the more it will be marked down. I will in a very extreme case, grant a paper extension, but you will need an extremely good reason to get one (such as a death in the family).

I do not give make up exams. Being able to meet deadlines and deal effectively with pressure situations while still facing the challenges of everyday living is part of what college is all about. If you are genuinely seriously ill, I might make an exception.

Salem State College is committed to nondiscrimination of Handicapped persons as specified in section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Students who qualify as handicapped persons under the definition of this act should notify the instructor at the beginning of course so that reasonable modifications may be made when necessary.

 

HIS 361 Syllabus – Subject to Change  so Please Keep Current!

 

Introduction and Origins of Witchcraft

 

 

Sept. 4

Introduction to the Course

 

 

Sept. 6

Witchcraft's Tangled Web (WWW that is….)

Oldridge

 1-20

Sept. 9

Medieval Origins of Witchcraft

Oldridge

21-52

Sept. 11

Medieval Christianity and Witchcraft

read documents at:

 

www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/witches1.html

 

Sept. 13

The Magic of the Medieval Church

Levack

 1-26

 

 

 

 

The Great Witch Hunt

 

 

Sept. 16

What was the Great Witch Hunt?

 

 

 

Web Assignment due in class on Sept. 16

 

 

Sept. 18

Witchcraft, Magic and Culture

Oldridge

53-86

Sept. 20

Witchcraft Accusations - Why?

Oldridge

87-108

Sept. 23

Intellectual Foundations of the Witch Hunt

Levack

27-67

Sept. 25

The Idea of a Witch Cult

Oldridge

109-128

Sept. 27

The Witch Cult and Margaret Murray

Oldridge

129-160

Sept. 30

Legal Foundations of the Witch Hunt

Levack

68-99

Oct. 2

Witchcraft, the State and Social Control

Oldridge

201-226

Oct. 4

Witchcraft and the Reformation

Levack

100-124

Oct. 7

Witchcraft and the Reformation, cont.

Oldridge

161-200

Oct. 9

The Social Context of Witchcraft

Levack

125-159

Oct. 11

The Dynamics of Witch-Hunting

Levack

160-184

Oct. 14

Columbus Day - No Class

 

 

Oct. 16

MIDTERM EXAM!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Witchcraft in New England

 

 

Oct. 18

Class Viewing of Witch City

TBA

 

Oct. 18

7pm - Lecture by Mary Beth Norton, Salem Athenaeum

 

Oct. 21

A New England, but the Same Old Witchcraft

B&N

ix-36

Oct. 23

A World of Wonders

B&N

37-59

Oct. 25

Case Study: Salem Possessed

B&N

60-109

Oct. 28

Salem Village: In Quest of Community

B&N

110-132

Oct. 30

Salem Village Factionalism and Accusations

B&N

133-152

Nov. 1

Theories on Witchcraft in Salem

B&N

153-178

Nov. 4

Lithobolia: The Stone Throwing Devil

B&N

179-222

 

Also: Read Chamberlain & Mather on Lithobolia, at course web site

 

 

 

 

Viewing Witchcraft with Different Lenses

 

 

Nov. 6

Witchcraft, Ethnicity, and the Frontier

Baker & Kences, Baker & Reid

Nov. 8

Chronology of the Witch Hunt

Levack

185-205

Nov. 11

Veteran's Day - No Classes

 

 

Nov. 13

Geography of the Witch Hunt

Levack

206-232

 

Haunted Happenings Paper Due in Class, Nov. 13

 

Nov. 15

Witchcraft, Possession, and the Devil

Oldridge

227-266

Nov. 18

Witchcraft and Gender

Oldridge

267-288

Nov. 20

Gender, Continued

Oldridge

289-322

Nov. 22

Reading Confessions: Why Did Witches Confess?

Oldridge

323-366

Nov. 25

Shakespeare's Witches

 

 

Nov. 27

The Archaeology of Witchcraft and Magic

 

 

Nov. 29

Thanksgiving Recess - No Class

 

 

 

 

 

 

Decline of Witchcraft and Magic

 

 

Dec. 2

The Decline of Witchcraft and The Rise of Science

Levack

233-260

Dec. 4

The Survival of Witchcraft and White Magic

Oldridge

367-388

Dec. 6

Vampires and Things that Go Bump in the Night

Oldridge

387-413

Dec. 9

Understanding Lithobolia

 

 

 

Lithobolia paper due in class on December 9

 

 

Dec. 11

A New Witch Hunt?

Oldridge

413-436

Dec. 18

FINAL EXAM 8:30-10:30 am, SB 109A

 

 


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