witch-hunting and witch-trials
This assignment is designed to help you work through the various concepts presented in units 4 and 5 on elite and popular belief and the role of gender with regard to witch-craft, witch-hunting and witch-trials. You will write a short ‘opinion’ / discussion essay of 2,000 words reflecting on some of the ‘questions to consider’ below. Do not feel that you have to limit your discussion to these parameters – if there are any other observations, points of interest or further analysis you would like to make, feel free. However you do need to reflect on both popular and elite culture and gender.
Note: As this is a discussion assignment, although specific examples should be given as evidence where possible it is not necessary to give a full citation each time you do so. Parenthetical references so your grader can easily find the evidence you are referring to would be useful, but you will not be graded on citations specifically. (If you would prefer to use footnotes, that is absolutely fine too).
Questions to consider:
Popular and Elite Belief
• Was popular or elite culture more important in the trials? Why?
• What effect do you think James writing Dæmonologie had on the witch trials, if any? Why?
• How effective is Dæmonologie as a source for the study of elite views of witchcraft in Scotland in the early modern period? Why is/isn’t it a useful source? Please use specific examples from the text.
• What do you think was James’ purpose in writing Dæmonologie? Why were elites concerned with identifying and persecuting witches?
• How can trial records like Gowdie’s be used to tell us more about the everyday life of Scottish people/society? Please use specific examples from the primary source.
• Can you think of any reason why using trial records as primary sources might be problematic?
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