Thinking with Demons: The Idea of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe / Edition 1

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This major work offers a new interpretation of the witchcraft beliefs of European intellectuals between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries, showing how these beliefs fitted rationally with other beliefs of the period and how far the nature of rationality is dependent on its historical context.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780198208082
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 11/28/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 848
  • Lexile: 1720L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 2.00 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Notes on Bibliography and References
1 Witchcraft and Language 3
2 Festivals and Sabbats 11
3 Dual Classification 31
4 Contrariety 43
5 Inversion 69
6 The Devil, God's Ape 80
7 Witchcraft and Wit-Craft 94
8 Women and Witchcraft 106
9 Unstable Meanings 134
10 Witchcraft and Science 151
11 The Devil in Nature 161
12 The Causes of Witchcraft 179
13 Believers and Sceptics 195
14 Natural Magic 214
15 Demonic Magic 233
16 Prerogative Instances (1) 251
17 Prerogative Instances (2) 259
18 The Magical Power of Signs 281
19 Witchcraft and the Scientific Revolution 294
20 Witchcraft and History 315
21 Postremus Furor Satanae 321
22 Eschatology 335
23 The Life and Times of the Antichrist 346
24 The Witch as Portent 363
25 Witch-Cleansing 375
26 Understanding Possession 389
27 Possession, Exorcism, and History 401
28 Before Loudun 423
29 Witchcraft and Religion 437
30 Cases of Conscience 445
31 Popular Magic 457
32 Superstition 472
33 Reformation 489
34 Acculturation by Text 509
35 Protestant Witchcraft, Catholic Witchcraft 526
36 Witchcraft and Politics 549
37 Magistrates and Witches 560
38 Inviolability 572
39 The Charisma of Office 582
40 Mystical Politics 602
41 Marvellous Monarchy 619
42 Spectacles of Disenchantment 634
43 Kingcraft and Witchcraft 655
44 Bodin's Political Demonology 668
Postscript 683
Bibliography 687
Index 773
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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2001

    MUST READ for Fans of Witchcraft History

    In this impressive work, Stuart Clark presents the study of witchcraft, demonology, not as reactionary fuel that fed the flames of European irrationality but as a major intellectual enterprise that reflected and shaped beliefs that permeated an entire social, cultural, and political milieu. The book blends a variety of theoretical approaches, ranging from Thomas Kuhn to Michel Foucault, but Clark primarily utilizes a post-structural approach to interpret the language of demonology. He addresses language in his opening chapter, but the entire book considers language within its broader social context; demonology had an internal logic that is revealed through a close study of the words of those that pondered the divine and the debased. Building on the linguistic premise he establishes in the first chapter, Clarke traces the strands of the demonological web through the modern categories of Science, History, Religion, and Politics. For example, in his chapter on ¿Politics¿, Clark argues that the demonological thinking validated the work of magistrates, secular and spiritual, as they investigated and adjudicated witch trials. In this manner, Clark links the intellectual foundations of early modern life in a manner that effectively conflates the categories that he and modern scholars have imposed on early modern thinking. The categories we view as distinct, Politics, Religion, etc., were inextricable owing to demonology¿s pivotal role in shaping intellectual discourse. However, Clark tempers demonology¿s structural logic with a recurring caveat: internal theoretical tensions and external disputes among its proponents continually plagued demonological reasoning. According to Clark, demonology not only rationalized beliefs and practices but also contained the seeds of its own gradual disintegration. For example, the tension between natural and demonic magic fostered increased scrutiny of ¿magical¿ phenomenon- a trend that expanded the boundaries of the natural and shrank the realm of the demonic. In this massive, meticulous work, Clark effectively challenges many deeply entrenched scholarly opinions on early modern witchcraft. For example, he argues against a significant body of anthropological and historical works that has characterized witch trials as primarily driven by misogynistic rhetoric and sentiment. Clark counters that demonologists did not encourage misogyny, nor were they that concerned with women. Instead, prevailing notions of women¿ inherent sinfulness and susceptibility to demonic influence outside of demonological writings were responsible for the resulting gender imbalance in witch prosecutions. ¿Writers on witchcraft evidently took for granted a greater propensity to demonism in women¿The connection was so obvious to them that they felt no need¿to indulge in additional women-hating to back it up.¿ (117) Pre-existing misogyny did influence the persecution of witches but neither defined nor fomented demonological thinking or rhetoric. Clark also promotes a manner of historical interpretation that is more sensitive to the perspective of historical subjects than to those of the modern reader/scholar. Throughout the book, Clark steps out of the narrative to critique the traditional historiography of witchcraft that has premised explanatory narratives on the unreality of witchcraft. These works, for the most part, cite more ¿rational¿ and modern factors like economic dislocation, religious conflicts, social upheaval, misogyny, etc., to explain the uncritically accepted irrationality of witch-hunts. Clark is attempting to reveal how demonologists understood witchcraft, regardless of its objective reality.

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