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Conference "Witchcraft and Masculinities in the Early Modern World"

  • 2006-04-21
  • 2006-04-22
  • University of Essex, UK
The historiography of early modern witchcraft has been dominated by discussions of gender in general and of the association between witchcraft, the feminine and the maternal in particular. These discussions have greatly influenced our understanding of the ways in which early modern people imagined the witch figure, constructed demonologies, and spoke about magic as either accusers or witches. However, while the majority of those convicted on charges of witchcraft in the early modern period were women, a statistically significant proportion (of 20-25%) were men. Their presence amongst the victims of witch persecution has been played down by historians: either ignored entirely, dismissed as less relevant than that of women, or treated as exceptional. This international conference seeks to redress the balance within the gender debate by reconsidering masculinity and its place within the broadest possible context of the magical worlds of the early modern period. Key questions to be considered will include: - The persecution of men as witches, and why this varied in intensity in regional and chronological terms. - The role of cunning men and other self-professed male practitioners of magic. - The role of gender and the psychology of masculinity in relation to male accusers and professional ‘witch hunters’ (eg: witch finders like Matthew Hopkins; judicial officials like Daniel Hauff in Esslingen; executioners, witch prickers etc). - The question of whether contemporaries imagined witchcraft in its various forms (sorcery, demonic witchcraft, white magic) in gendered ways, at the levels of popular belief and demonology, and how this varied geographically and changed over time. - Gender and possession. Keynote speakers will include Robin Briggs, Owen Davies, Jonathan Durrant, Peter Elmer, Sarah Ferber, Malcolm Gaskill, Jenni Grundy, Alison Rowlands, Rolf Schulte, Rita Voltmer and Julian Goodare.

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