HISTORY 197 - First-Year Seminar
Section: 002 The Salem Witchcraft Story: Myth, History, and Ongoing Controversies
Term: WN 2010
Subject: History (HISTORY)
Department: LSA History
Course Note:
A basic introduction to historical thinking and method through small-course seminar experience. Topics vary from term to term; however, no matter what the topic, students can expect to spend a great deal of time learning to think critically about historical questions and to write well. As such, the First-Year seminar should serve as an introduction to upper-level course work in history and related fields of study.
Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
Advisory Prerequisites:
Enrollment restricted to first-year students, including those with sophomore standing.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

The Salem Witchcraft Outbreak of 1692 holds a special fascination for scholars, students, and the general public. But the Salem story is not the same for everyone. Indeed, what happened in Salem in 1692 eluded easy explanation for participants and observers three hundred years ago and remains intensely controversial today. This seminar asks two basic questions: why did early New Englanders come to have such a difficult time agreeing about what they were witnessing in Salem, and what accounts for the ongoing attraction to and disputes about these events over the past three centuries? Separating history from myth is part of our task in this course, but as important, we will sort out key points of contention in both the past and the present. In coming to terms with our subject, we will look at

  1. how New England beliefs followed from but shifted somewhat as they traveled from early modern Europe to New England;
  2. where Salem fit in seventeenth-century witchcraft beliefs and prosecutions and elite and popular fears about women as witches;
  3. what accounts for the continuing attention to witches after the trials were over; and
  4. when and how the witch became a mainstay of fairy tales, children’s fiction, Walt Disney films, political cartoons, and other forms of modern popular and political culture?

Required readings and films begin with Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, turn next to historical documents and interpretations, and finally, end with the new Witches of Eastwick television production and other recent witch representations in contemporary American media.

HISTORY 197 - First-Year Seminar
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
W 1:00PM - 4:00PM
002 (SEM)
TuTh 11:30AM - 1:00PM
003 (SEM)
MW 10:00AM - 11:30AM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

ISBN: 0674785266
Salem Possessed, Author: Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum, Publisher: Harvard University Press PB
ISBN: 0807611379
Witchcraft at Salem, Author: Chadwick Hansen., Publisher: G. Braziller Trade pape 1969
ISBN: 0393317595
The devil in the shape of a woman : witchcraft in colonial New England, Author: Carol F. Karlsen., Publisher: Norton 1998
ISBN: 9780140083651
The Crucible : a play in four acts, Author: Miller, Arthur., Publisher: Penguin Books 1986
ISBN: 9780060391447
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West : a novel, Author: Maguire, Gregory., Publisher: ReganBooks 1995
Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

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