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Course Description

Black and white imprint of 3 witches pointing in one direction

This course will explore the phenomenon of the 'witch-hunts' in early modern Europe through a focus on Scotland in the period 1560-1700. In addition to placing the witch-hunts in their historical context by providing students with the background to Scotland’s political, religious, and social history in the early modern period, the course will introduce students to the considerable body of historical writing on the subject of the witch-hunts and give them hands on experience with primary source documents in order to discuss specific witch trials themselves. Popular and elite conceptions of witchcraft will be explored, as well as gender history.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, the learner should be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the political, social and ecclesiastical development of Scotland from 1560 to 1700, including major events, people and themes;
  • Identify a wide variety of explanations for the phenomenon of the witch-hunts; and
  • Evaluate and analyze both primary and secondary source materials used in the study of the witch-hunts and, more broadly, early modern Scotland, and employ these sources to create and defend an argument regarding a witch trial.

Course Topics

  • Scotland, 1560-1700
  • Interpreting the Witch-hunts
  • Contextualizing the Witch Trials: Religion, Politics, and Social Change
  • Daemonologie, Fairies and Cunning Folk: Popular and Elite Conceptions of Witchcraft
  • Gender and the Witch Trials
  • Putting it All Together: The Trials of Thomas and Jane Weir (1670)

Additional Requirements

Prerequisite(s): 7.50 credits including 1.00 credits in History


Assessment Item Weight
Quizzes 10%
Introduction and Final Discussion (Unit 01 and Unit 06; 5% each) 10%
Unit Reading Discussions (Unit 02 and Unit 05; 15% each) 30%
Essay 1 25%
Essay 2 25%
Total 100%

Technical Requirements

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*Course details are subject to change.


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