Studies in Early Modern Europe:
The Age of the Witch Hunts
Fall Semester 1999

Frank Luttmer
108 Classic Hall
M W F: 10-11, 12-1
866-7205 (office) 866-4073 (home)

Course Description and Objectives

The objective of this course is to understand the witch hunts not as an aberration or "craze," but rather as a phenomenon that was organically related to early modern society, law, government, culture, and theology. The course examines the origins, evolution, and decline of the witch hunts, drawing comparisons between Continental Europe, England, and New England. In addition to increasing your understanding of the witch hunts and early modern society, the course is designed to deepen your appreciation of the study of history, strengthen your capacity to think critically and analytically, and improve your research and writing skills. You will be expected to analyze primary documents carefully and thoughtfully, develop and defend your own interpretations, and write a substantive research paper.


1. Joseph Klaits, Servants of Satan
2. James Sharpe, Instruments of Darkness
3. Lyndal Roper, Oedipus & the Devil
4. Bernard Rosenthal, Salem Story
5. Barbara Rosen, ed., Witchcraft in England, 1558-1618
6. Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger, Malleus Maleficarum
7. Reginold Scot, A Discovery of Witchcraft


Final grades will be based on an evaluation of the following.

1. Two mid-term exams (15% each) and a final exam (20%)

2. A research paper submitted in two drafts (15% for the first draft and 25% for the second)

3. Class participation (10%)


Origins and European Context

Sept. 8:
Definitions and Evidence of Witchcraft
Klaits, 1-47

Sept. 10:
A Witch-Hunting Manual
Kramer and Sprenger, xliii-xlv, 1-21, 31-66

A Witch-Hunting Manual
Kramer and Sprenger, 66-109, 155-164

Sept. 15:
The Reformation and Perceptions of Women
Klaits, 48-85

Sept. 17:
Witch Accusations and Possession
Klaits, 86-119; Kramer and Sprenger, 128-134, 179-188

Sept. 20
The Law and Torture
Bodin; Kramer and Sprenger,194-210, 216-240, 259-261, 264-268

Sept. 22
The Law and Torture
Klaits, 128-158; Bamberg; Wurzburg; Trier

The New Cultural History, Feminism, and the Witch Hunts

Sept. 24
Methodology and "Crisis in Gender Relations"
Roper, 1-52

Sept. 27
"Will and Honour" and "Sexual Utopianism"
Roper, 53-103

Sept. 29
Masculinity, Capitalism, and Magic
Roper, 107-145

Oct. 1
The Body, Social Order, and Theology
Roper, 145-198

Oct. 4
"Witchcraft and Fantasy" and "Oedipus and the Devil"
Roper, 199-248

Oct. 6

Scepticism and the Case against Witch Hunting

Oct. 8
Reginold Scot
Scot, 1-41

Oct. 11
Reginold Scot
Scot, 42-45, 56-57, 62-65, 89-94, 123-125, 130-136, 163-170,
182-186, 196-207, 217, 226-235, 238-240, 245-253, 260-1, 271-2

Oct. 13
Reginold Scot and the Response
Scot, 273-283; Gifford; James

The English Witch Hunts

Oct. 15
Context and Elite Mentalities
Sharpe, 1-57

Oct. 20
Popular Mentalities
Sharpe, 58-79; Rosen, 61-99

Oct. 22
Popular Mentalities
Rosen, 182-224

Oct. 25
Theology and English Law
Sharpe, 80-102; Rosen, 51-58

Oct. 27
Patterns of Prosecution and Punishment
Sharpe, 105-127; Rosen, 103-167, 305-315

Oct. 28

Oct. 29
The East Anglia Hunt and Local Communities
Sharpe, 128-168; Rosen, 316-328, 369-384

Nov. 1
Women and Witchcraft Revisited
Sharpe, 169-189; Rosen, 331-368

Nov. 3
Sharpe, 190-210; Rosen, 298-302, 227-257

Nov. 5
Rosen, 257-297

Nov. 8

The Salem Witch Hunts

Nov. 10
The New England Hunts in Context
Levack; Demos; New York witchcraft

Nov. 12
The Origins of the Salem Hunts
Rosenthal, 1-31; Salem Documents

Nov. 15
Girls and Boys
Rosenthal, 32-66; Salem Documents

Nov. 17
The Trials
Rosenthal, 67-106; Salem Documents

Nov. 19
The Trials
Rosenthal, 107-150; Salem Documents

Nov. 22
The Trials
Rosenthal, 151-182; Salem Documents

Nov. 29
Rosenthal, 183-218; Salem Documents

Dec. 1
Salem Documents

The Decline of the Witch Hunts

Dec. 3
Judicial Scepticism
Klaits, 159-176; Sharpe, 213-234; Filmer

Dec. 6
Changes in Religion and Science
Sharpe, 235-275; Hobbes

Dec. 8
Sharpe, 276-302

Dec. 10

Dec. 13-17

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