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Magic, Witchcraft, and Miracle, from Saints to Salem
HIST 210
Fall 2022
Section: 01  
Crosslisting: MDST 211

Until the "disenchantment of the world" in the 18th and 19th centuries, Europeans lived in a universe shot through with hidden and awesome power. God's action in the world was possible, but puzzlingly he often operated through other agents, through the saints and by miracle. On the other hand, humans were often tempted to appeal to other powers to get what they wanted, and the use of magic, some pagan in origin, some not, was a pervasive influence. The world was full of demons and even devils, who used illusion and magic to entrap people by possessing them or turning them toward witchcraft in exchange for wealth and health. Surprisingly, the occult was not all bad, and Catholics and later Protestants too wrestled with the question of what to accept and what to suppress. Magical forces did not fade with the Renaissance but actually grew alongside the first developments toward modern natural science in the 16th and 17th centuries. The necromancer joined the saint, the priest, and the witch as the faces of occult power. This course will take a broad look at the people and powers that filled the place where science and a lot of religion sit today. The course will survey medieval developments and will end in New England in the 17th century. The instructor will provide background and narrative history in order to place the readings into their appropriate context. In surveying the long history of magic and miracle in Europe, we shall ask such questions as: What exactly do these terms mean and how have the meanings changed? How far away from such a worldview are we today and did magic really end in the 17th century? And, if so, why? Who controlled the use of magic and how was its misuse identified and punished? Were the processes of law, inquisition, and prosecution fair or effective? Were there really witches or just witch hunts? Why did people believe in miracles and magic? Who were the practitioners? Why did it all decline?
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: SBS HIST
Course Format: DiscussionGrading Mode: Student Option
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (HIST-MN)(HIST)(MDST-MN)(MDST)(MDST-Art/Arch)(MDST-History)(MDST-Lang/Lit)(MDST-Phil/Reli)
Past Enrollment Probability: Less than 50%

Last Updated on JUL-24-2024
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