Friday, 16 September 2016
7.00pm-7.45pm Discussion Group (Club Rm)
Facilitated by Annette Lowe
by Dr David Tacey, "Beyond Belief" (2015) Chapter 7, pp131-149
8.00pm Guest Speaker
Witchcraft and Emotion
in Early Modern Europe
Accounts of witchcraft were common in early modern Europe. Witches were portrayed in popular print, in woodcuts and in plays. They were legislated against and those accused of witchcraft were liable to face pillory, jail or death. In England approximately 500 men and women were executed for witchcraft between 1563 and 1736 – just a small percentage of the 50,000 executed for witchcraft across Europe during this same period.
In this paper, I want to explore the importance of emotions as fundamental drivers of witchcraft acts and accusations. English witches were believed to form deep emotional bonds with the Devil – who most commonly appeared to them as a small domestic animal such as a dog, cat or chicken. Witches were then believed to use their ties with the Devil to hurt or murder their neighbours, to lame or kill cattle, to make men impotent, or to destroy children. Witches were often viewed as men and women who had lost control of their emotions and given into their evil desires. Performing witchcraft was not viewed as a rational act. Rather, it was believed to be motivated and sustained by strong emotions such as anger, rage, greed, envy, hatred
– and even love.
Dr Charlotte-Rose Millar is a UQ Postdoctoral Fellow in the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Queensland and an Associate Investigator with the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions (1100-1800). Her book, The Devil is in the Pamphlets: Witchcraft and Emotion in Early Modern England is forthcoming with Routledge in 2017. She is also the author of numerous works on witchcraft, diabolism, emotions and sexual practices in early modern England and has won two prizes for her published work. She is currently working on a new book-length project on attitudes towards sexual and marital practices in post-Reformation England.
(updated 12th September 2016)