Teaching Salem Witchcraft

One of the most provocative topics in the American History survey class is the Salem witchcraft trials. Although it was a great tragedy, the episode lends itself to wonderful discussions about historical interpretation. As Emerson Baker’s recent book A Storm of Witchcraft points out, the past four decades have seen a huge expansion of the literature on [Read More...]

Interpreting Demonic Possession

My graduate course recently read Brian Levack’s The Devil Within: Possession and Exorcism in the Christian West (Yale, 2013). Levack, the author of a number of important books on witchcraft and possession in early modern Europe, notes from the outset that “demonic possession is a methodological landmine for historians.” That’s the truth! It is relatively easy [Read More...]


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