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Vexed with devils : manhood and witchcraft in Old and New England

Author: Erika Gasser
Publisher: New York : New York University Press, [2017]
Series: Early American places.
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
Stories of witchcraft and demonic possession from early modern England through the last official trials in colonial New England. Those possessed by the devil in early modern England usually exhibited a common set of symptoms: fits, vomiting, visions, contortions, speaking in tongues, and an antipathy to prayer. However, it was a matter of interpretation, and sometimes public opinion, if these symptoms were visited  Read more...
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Genre/Form: History
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Erika Gasser
ISBN: 9781479831791 1479831794
OCLC Number: 961160721
Description: xiii, 223 pages ; 24 cm.
Contents: Possession, gender, and power --
Discerning demonic and witchcraft-possession in early modern England --
Engendering English witchcraft-possession: the Samuel Family in Warboys --
Disputing possession in England: Samuel Harsnett versus John Darrell --
Engendering New England witchcraft-possession: George Burroughs in Salem --
Disputing possession in New England: Robert Calef versus Cotton Mather --
Continuity and patriarchy at the turn of the eighteenth century.
Series Title: Early American places.
Responsibility: Erika Gasser.

Abstract:

Stories of witchcraft and demonic possession from early modern England through the last official trials in colonial New England. Those possessed by the devil in early modern England usually exhibited a common set of symptoms: fits, vomiting, visions, contortions, speaking in tongues, and an antipathy to prayer. However, it was a matter of interpretation, and sometimes public opinion, if these symptoms were visited upon the victim, or if they came from within. Both early modern England and colonial New England had cases that blurred the line between witchcraft and demonic possession, most famously, the Salem witch trials. While historians acknowledge some similarities in witch trials between the two regions, such as the fact that an overwhelming majority of witches were women, the histories of these cases primarily focus on local contexts and specifics. In so doing, they overlook the ways in which manhood factored into possession and witchcraft cases. This is a cultural history of witchcraft-possession phenomena that centers on the role of men and patriarchal power.Erika Gasser reveals that witchcraft trials had as much to do with who had power in the community, to impose judgement or to subvert order, as they did with religious belief. She argues that the gendered dynamics of possession and witchcraft demonstrated that contested meanings of manhood played a critical role in the struggle to maintain authority.

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"Gasser argues that demonic and witchcraft possession cases throughout the Anglo-American world functioned as a form of social policing during the early modern period...Anyone seeking a fresh Read more...

 
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