Honors Program

Honors Witchcraft and Witch Hunts

Honors Witchcraft and Witch Hunts

Honors Witchcraft and Witch Hunts

24132  |  HIST H225-02H | M/W |  3:00-4:15PM  |  LA 212 |  3.0 cr.       

This course fulfills the Humanities COAS requirement.  

Instructor: Dr. Suzanne LaVere (History)

In early modern Europe, roughly 100,000 people (predominantly women) were put on trial for witchcraft.  About half this number were executed. This course seeks to understand how and why these horrific events occurred at this particular time and why more trials occurred in particular areas of Europe. We will investigate the medieval roots of these witch hunts, and look in detail at the trials and executions of the accused, using trial records, anti-witch tracts from Church officials and other primary sources, as well as secondary sources from a wide range of modern authors. The course will also look into how ideas about witches crossed the Atlantic, using Salem as a way to examine similarities and differences with the European “witch craze.” Students will also have an opportunity to examine how witches and witch hunts have been portrayed in popular culture, from 17th-century English plays to modern American films and television. Overall, students in this course will seek to understand why the “witch craze” occurred, and what short- and long-term impact this phenomenon had on European and early American culture and society.