HIS 343W • Witches, Workers, and Wives
Our stereotypical image of an early modern woman is a witch - for some good reasons because thousands of witch trials took place. In this course, we will look beyond that perspective to explore the complex of material, political, and cultural factors that shaped experiences of gender and family and that shaped attitudes about gender and power in early modern Europe. The early modern centuries between about 1500 and 1800 were years of tremendous change in many ways - religious reformations, European governments became more powerful at home and established colonies world wide, economic transformation as people became consumers and production expanded exponentially. Some features were slower to change, however, especially with regard to family life. In this class, we will explore how women's experiences of these patterns compared to men's - whether as workers, consumers, criminals, political subjects and political actors, peasants or nobles, spouses or parents. Along the way, we will explore why some of these dynamics fed into a proliferation of "witches."
Assignments may include: responses to readings, one paper, exams, and a group project.
Readings may include the following books and a number of articles: Judith Bennett, Ale, Beer, and Brewsters: Women's Work in a Changing World, 1300-1600 Steven Ozment, The Burgermeister's Daughter: Scandal in a Sixteenth-Century German Town Joseph Klaits, Servants of Satan: The Age of the Witch Hunts The Memoirs of Gluckel of Hameln, Robert Rosen., ed.