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The war on witchcraft: Andrew Dickson White, George Lincoln Burr, and the origins of witchcraft historiography

Machielsen, Jan 2021. The war on witchcraft: Andrew Dickson White, George Lincoln Burr, and the origins of witchcraft historiography. Elements in Magic, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/9781108953313

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Abstract

Historians of the early modern witch-hunt often begin histories of their field with the theories propounded by Margaret Murray and Montague Summers in the 1920s. They overlook the lasting impact of nineteenth-century scholarship, in particular the contributions by two American historians, Andrew Dickson White (1832–1918) and George Lincoln Burr (1857–1938). Study of their work and scholarly personae contributes to our understanding of the deeply embedded popular understanding of the witch-hunt as representing an irrational past in opposition to an enlightened present. Yet the men's relationship with each other, and with witchcraft sceptics – the heroes of their studies – also demonstrates how their writings were part of a larger war against 'unreason'. This Element thus lays bare the ways scholarly masculinity helped shape witchcraft historiography, a field of study often seen as dominated by feminist scholarship. Such meditation on past practice may foster reflection on contemporary models of history writing.

Item Type: Book
Book Type: Authored Book
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D204 Modern History
D History General and Old World > DD Germany
E History America > E151 United States (General)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 9781108948746
Funders: Humboldt Foundation
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 1 July 2021
Last Modified: 07 Jul 2021 08:43
URI: http://orca.cardiff.ac.uk/id/eprint/142284

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