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Macmillan Education UK
Languages of Witchcraft: Narrative, Ideology and Meaning in Early Modern Culture

Languages of Witchcraft: Narrative, Ideology and Meaning in Early Modern Culture

by Stuart Clark


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Different conceptions of the world and of reality have made witchcraft possible in some societies and impossible in others. How did the people of early modern Europe experience it and what was its place in their culture? The new essays in this collection illustrate the latest trends in witchcraft research and in cultural history in general. After three decades in which the social analysis of witchcraft accusations has dominated the subject, they turn instead to its significance and meaning as a cultural phenomenon - to the 'languages' of witchcraft, rather than its causes. As a result, witchcraft seems less startling than it once was, yet more revealing of the world in which it occurred.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780333793497
Publisher: Macmillan Education UK
Publication date: 12/15/2000
Edition description: 2000
Pages: 241
Product dimensions: 5.51(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.02(d)

About the Author

STUART CLARK is Professor of History at the University of Wales, Swansea.

Table of Contents

Preface.- Notes of Contributors.- Introduction; S. ClarkPART 1: HISTORY AND STORY IN WITCHCRAFT TRIALS.- Texts of Authority: Witchcraft Accusations and the Demonstration of Truth in Early Modern England; P. Rushton.- Understanding Witchcraft; M. Gibson.- Witches and Witnesses in Old and New England; M. Gaskill.- Sounds of Silence: Fairies and Incest in Scottish Witchcraft Stories; D. Purkiss.- PART 2: CONTEXTS OF WITCHCRAFT.- Towards a Politics of Witchcraft in Early Modern England; P. Elmer.- The Religion of Reginald Scot; D. Wootton.- Hell Upon Earth or the Language of the Playhouse; J. Barry.- PART 3: HOW CONTEMPORARIES READ WITCHCRAFT.- Circling the Devil: Witch-doctors and Magic Healers in Early Modern Lorraine; R. Briggs.- Witchcraft as Metaphor: Infanticide and its Translations in Aragon in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries; M. Tausiet.- Witchcraft and Forensic Medicine in Seventeenth-Century Germany; T. Robisheaux.- Reasoning with Unreason: Visions, Witchcraft and Madness in Early Modern England; K. Hodgkin.- Index.

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From the Publisher

The binding theme of this collection is the need to study these beliefs by understanding the thought-worlds of those who held them at the time, and to appreciate how complex, and often mutually adversarial, those thought-worlds were. This makes an outright rejection of the dominant tendency in scholarship of the subject for most of the twentieth century, which was to impose external analyses upon the phenomenon, and to ignore the views of those involved in it on the grounds that they were deluded ... Because the team of experts is international, the case-studies concerned extend to Germany and Spain as well as providing a range of British material. The total effect is to move the subject on rather than merely enlarging our knowledge of it.' - Ronald Hutton, University of Bristol

'Besides academics and undergraduates interested in the history of early modern witchcraft, the book would be of particular interest to students of literature, cultural studies and criminology (particularly as a number of essays are concerned with reading and understanding judicial texts). The book breaks new ground by focusing on 'cultural' issues such as the language, texts and idioms of early modern witchcraft and poses exciting questions about how we should understand this complex 'alien' subject. Consequently, the book should be in demand for quite some time and will quickly become required reading for all who wish to keep abreast of intellectual developments in witchcraft research. I would certainly recommend it to my students.' - Robert Walinski-Kiehl, University of Portsmouth

'This is an excellent collection of essays which will be very useful, not only for specialist courses on witchcraft but also for other courses in the social, cultural and gender history of early modern Europe.' - Alison Rowlands, Essex University

'This is on balance a well-presented and coordinated set of essays.' - Sixteenth Century Journal

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