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Witches in History, Fiction and Scholarship
Course code: ELCS4008
Tutor: Professor Susanne Kord
Mode of Assessment: 1 assessed essay of 3000 words and 1.5 hour desk examination
Term: taught in term 2
This course focuses on three aspects of witches and the witch persecutions:
- the ‘Burning Times’ in early modern Europe and the Salem witch trials;
- the depiction of the witch in fairy tales from the Grimms to Disney, and in ‘serious’ literature, particularly literature that purports to rely on historical sources (from Hans Sachs to Arthur Miller);
- the explanations that scholars have sought for one of the most horrific instances of mass destruction in world history.
The variety of readings, from religious tracts to historical and fictional representations to pop culture to scholarship, will expose students to a variety of argumentation styles and authorial positionalities. Students will thus be asked to read for representation as well as information, and question or investigate the truth claims of texts in various genres.
- Kors, Alan Charles.: Witchcraft in Europe, 1100-1700 : a documentary history, edited, with an introduction, by Alan C. Kors and Edward Peters. London : Dent , 1973 (or any later edition).
- Arthur Miller, The Crucible (any edition).
All other texts available on UCL Moodle.
Initial Secondary Bibliography:
- Barstow, Anne Llewellyn. Witchcraze: a new history of the European witch hunts. London: Pandora, 1994.
- Brauner, Sigrid, Fearless wives and frightened shrews : the construction of the witch in early modern Germany. Amherst : University of Massachusetts Press, 1995.
- Cawthorne, Nigel. Witch Hunt: History of a Persecution. Slough: Arcturus, 2003.
- Kapferer, Bruce, ed. Beyond Rationalism: Rethinking Magic, Witchcraft, and Sorcery. New York & Oxford: Berghahn, 2003.
- Purkiss, Diane. The witch in history: early modern and twentieth-century representations. London: Routledge, 1996.