Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New Englandby Carol F. Karlsen
Pub. Date: 04/28/1998
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Confessing to "Familiarity with the Devils," Mary Johnson, a servant, was executed by Connecticut officials in 1648. A wealthy Boston widow, Ann Hibbens, was hanged in 1656 for casting spells on her neighbors. In 1662, Ann
"A pioneer work in . . . the sexual structuring of society. This is not just another book about witchcraft."--Edmund S. Morgan, Yale University
Confessing to "Familiarity with the Devils," Mary Johnson, a servant, was executed by Connecticut officials in 1648. A wealthy Boston widow, Ann Hibbens, was hanged in 1656 for casting spells on her neighbors. In 1662, Ann Cole was "taken with very strange Fits" and fueled an outbreak of witchcraft accusations in Hartford a generation before the notorious events in Salem took place. More than three hundred years later the question still haunts us: Why were these and other women likely witches? Why were they vulnerable to accusations of witchcraft? In this work Carol Karlsen reveals the social construction of witchcraft in seventeenth-century New England and illuminates the larger contours of gender relations in that society.
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This is a great book, heavily ladened in facts... but that is a good thing in a scholarly work such as this since is lends credence to her arguments. She argues that women accused of witchcraft tended to be older, married women who violated (in some way) the economic or social norms of colonial New England. If you are interested in the witchcraft trial in New England and have always wondered why the majority of accused witches were women, then this is the perfect book for you. I really enjoyed reading it and I think you will too!
If you are looking for a book specifically on the facts of witches trials, get thisbook. otherwise, be wary. The book is so loaded with facts that you wonder if the author actually wrote this or if she just compiled data. A great book if you are writing a research paper, but not, if you are like me, a good choice for an extra credit book