Magic, Heresy, and Witchcraft in the Medieval World, 350-1550


This seminar will study the history of magic, heresy, and witchcraft in the medieval world. It will begin in the fourth century after the conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine and end with the great witchcraft trials of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The seminar will read magical treatises, ecclesiastical polemics against common beliefs, inquisitorial trials, chronicles, and histories, in our attempt to define what was considered the ordinary and the extraordinary, the natural and the supernatural, good and evil, the boundaries of heaven and earth. How do modern historians use medieval documents to evoke the lives of men, women, and children who believed in magic or were accused of heresy? Can this only be done through a form of historical anthropology? What methods do historians use in trying to understand past ideas and practices? What is historical truth then? What is the relationship of supposedly heterodox belief and behavior with religious orthodoxy? How do we define religion? A theme throughout this seminar will be the definition of evil and the powers of the devil. Students will write a short historiographic essay and a long research essay. Pre-modern, Europe. PREREQUISITE: Sophomore standing or permission of the instructor. This course fulfills the history major capstone requirement as an Advanced Seminar.
Course Attributes: EN H; BU Hum; BU IS; AS HUM; AS LCD; FA HUM; AR HUM

Section 01

Magic, Heresy, and Witchcraft in the Medieval World, 350-1550 - 01
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