1 WITCHCRAFT AND MAGIC HISTORY 510:253/ WOMEN’S STUDIES 988:253 SPRING, 2012 PROFESSOR PHYLLIS MACK 224 VAN DYCK HALL, CAC OFFICE HOUR: WED 1:30-2:30 PMACK@RCI.RUTGERS.EDU COURSE DESCRIPTION: This is a course about the culture of witchcraft and the occult – the values, assumptions, and attitudes that have generated beliefs about witches and the supernatural, both in earlier times and in our own day. This is also a course about witchcraft as a crime, specifically, the witch craze of the 16th and 17th centuries, which resulted in thousands of executions, mainly (but not exclusively) of women. We will discuss these persecutions as episodes in the history of women and of gender relations in European societies, and also in relation to religious and intellectual ideas in the early modern period. The first section of the course deals with theories of witchcraft, ancient goddess religions, and Christian doctrines relating to gender, magic, and sexuality. We will also discuss the nature of Church authority and folk beliefs in medieval and early modern Europe. The second section is a close examination of the witch craze of the 16th-17th centuries in Europe and New England. In the final section, we study ideas of magic and the occult in the 19th and 20th centuries, including spiritualist movements in Victorian England, the McCarthy “witchhunts” of the 1950s, and the feminist and environmentalist Wicca movement. LEARNING GOALS AND REQUIRED WORK: This is a course about social behavior, religious culture, and ideas and preconceptions about gender; it is a course about ideas more than facts. You will be required to think and write about a number of complex issues, such as the relationship between religion and magic, or changing perceptions of male and female bodies. You will also be expected to complete the reading assignments during the week they are assigned and be prepared to discuss them (and identify important figures) in required exams. There will be two in-class tests and a take-home final exam. Students may choose to do an in-class presentation, either individually or in groups of up to five students, in place of the second test. Students who choose to do a presentation should submit written proposals and be available to meet with me at least once. The first test (30% of your grade) will include both short questions and essay questions. Short questions will ask you to briefly (1-2 pages) identify and discuss an historical term, person, or event. Essay questions may require you to address a specific historical 2 question, compare historical time periods, events, or persons. A good essay should be well written, clearly organized, address directly the question(s) posed, and incorporate historical documents and facts in support of your answer. You are responsible for the ideas and information taken from the readings, films, and lectures. You will receive a study guide in advance of the first exam. The second test (35% of your grade) will consist of a single essay, asking you to discuss the cultural meaning of the vampire figure in European and American history. You will be required to read the novel, Dracula, by Bram Stoker, and see THREE films dealing with the Dracula (or vampire) figure IN ADDITION TO one other vampire film, shown in class. The third take-home test (35% of your grade) will cover material from the entire semester and will consist of TWO essay questions. REQUIRED TEXTS: The following books are on sale at the Rutgers U. (Barnes and Noble) bookstore: Jeffrey Russell, A History of Witchcraft Bram Stoker, Dracula Starhawk, The Spiral Dance Marian Starkey, The Devil in Massachusetts Other required readings, (marked below with a *) are on reserve at Alexander Library and can be downloaded on your home computer. COURSE SCHEDULE I. BACKGROUND Jan. 18: Introduction: What this course is about. Witchcraft as a belief system, as a crime, as a cultural phenomenon, and as a chapter in the history of women. Jan. 23-25: Theories of witchcraft and magic. The concepts of spiritual transformation, blessing and cursing. The relationship between magic and social deprivation. Witchcraft in cross-cultural perspective: were the European and American experiences unique? READING: Russell, Ch. 1 Jan. 30- Pre-modern ideas about the self. What does it mean to be possessed? Feb. 1: Film: “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” READING: *S. Ansky, “The Dybbuk Melody” 3 2. THE CULTURE OF WITCHCRAFT: WOMEN, SEX, MAGIC Feb. 6: Ancient goddess worship. READING: *Tikvah Frymer Kensky, In the Wake of the Goddesses, “In the Body of the Goddess” Feb. 8: Early Christian attitudes toward women, sexuality, and magic. The origins of Satan. READING: *Jerome’s Letter CVIII “To Eustochium, Memorials of her Mother, Paula” *The Martyrdom of Perpetua Feb. 13: Europe in the pre-modern period: vestiges of paganism. The Catholic church and magic. READING: Russell, Ch. 2 Feb. 15: Europe in the pre-modern period: attitudes toward women. READING: *Sara Grieco, “The Body, Appearance, and Sexuality,” Feb. 20: Renaissance Magic: Magic as Philosophy. Magicians and witches. READING: * Guido Ruggiero, Binding Passions, “That Old Black Magic Called Love” 3. THE WITCH CRAZE Feb. 22: The witch craze in Catholic countries. The role of the Inquisition. Interrogation as theater. The evolution of torture. The craze at Loudun. READING: Russell, Ch. 3-4 Feb. 27 The witch craze in Protestant Europe. The Salem witch craze of 1692 READING: Starkey, Chapters 1, 2 Russell, Ch. 5-6 *Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Young Goodman Brown” Feb. 29- Mar.5: Film: “The Crucible” READING: Starkey, Chapters 3-22 Mar. 7 IN CLASS MIDTERM TEST 4 Mar. 12-14: SPRING BREAK 4. WITCHCRAFT AND THE OCCULT IN THE MODERN AND POSTMODERN WORLD Mar. 19: The end of the witch craze and the ‘crazes’ of the modern period. The Enlightenment, rationalism, and the anti-communist “witch craze” of the 1950s. READING: Russell, Ch. 7 *Arthur Miller, “Why I wrote The Crucible” Mar.21: Victorians, evil, and women. Spiritualism and science. Sex, masculinity, and Wilhelm Reich. READING: * Alex Owen, The Darkened Room, “Star Mediumship: Light and Shadows” Mar. 26: The phenomenon of Dracula and the vampire. READING: Bram Stoker, Dracula Mar. 28- April 2: Film: Nosferatu, (directed by Werner Herzog) 1979 READING: Finish Dracula Apr. 4: IN-CLASS TEST: The cultural meaning of the vampire figure. Apr. 9: From folk tales for adults to fairy tales for children. Witchcraft and gender rage. READING: Diane Purkiss, The Witch in History, “At Play in the Fields of the Past” Apr. 11: Modern Wicca: A return to ancient goddess religions? READING: Russell, Ch. 8 Starhawk, The Spiral Dance, Ch. 1-6, 8-9, 13 Apr. 16: Witchcraft on the margins. READING: Russell, Ch. 10 5 Apr. 18: Meetings and preparation for optional in-class projects. Apr. 23-25: GROUP PROJECTS Apr. 30: Review. Exams are due in my office before 3:00 on May 7.
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