Papers should be 5-7 pages typed, double spaced, no covers
please, just title page with
name, date, section, title.
To be sure everyone has decided on a topic a week or
more before paper is due, hand in topic
on index card at lecture. If any topic is not on suggested list, you need to have it first approved
by Professor O’Neil.
DRAFTS: Prof. O'Neil and TAs are available to read drafts. TAs will set their own schedules for this.
For in put from Prof. O'neil arrange appointment by e-mail or come to office hours.
There are a number of topics students can write on, drawing on readings assigned in the course.
Students who wish to pursue a different topic need to consult with & get approval from Prof. O'Neil.
Topics drawing on the Malleus Maleficarum:
1. What is the view of women presented by Kramer and
Sprenger? What is their overall argument, and
what are their sources? Issues to be discussed include their view of the general nature of women, their
sexuality (including demonic sex) and the kinds of harm women are given to. (If you choose this topic, try
to present these views on their own terms, looking for their internal logic.)
2. Despite their assurance that witches cannot
injure "those who administer public justice against them,"
the authors of the Malleus betray a certain fear and horror of witches that emerges especially in their
instructions on how to try a witch (Pt. III, K&P, pp. 204-229). Discuss the interaction between judges and
witches and the attitude of the witch hunters towards their victims in the Malleus.
Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Fautus:
3. Marlowe's Doctor Faustus is often described as a
Reformation drama. What are the theological issues
involved in the tragedy of Dr. Faustus? Why is Faust damned? What caused his fall? Could he have been
saved? Discuss the attitude to scholasticism and to Catholicism depicted in the play.
16th Century Witch Debate:
4. At the start of the witch panic, the central issues
involved were debated by a groups of intellectuals representing
the major professions. What were the issues debated between the Lutheran preacher Johann Brenz, the physician
Johann Weyer, and the French magistrate Jean Bodin? (You may also include Reginald Scot.)
Discuss their explanations for the harm attributed to witches and their positions on the reality of witches, using
documents in Kors and Peters the xerox readings packet (Section # 1, Readings for Week 6).
The Benandanti: Source: Documents of trials against Paolo Gasparutto and Battista Moduco
Appendix of Ginzburg, Night Battles, pp. 147-71 plus opening section of book.
5. How does the Inquisition's view of the benandanti differ from their concept of themselves?
Use the trial record included in the Appendix to discuss these differences.
Comment: There are at least two distinct cultural levels
visible in these trial records,
that of the benandanti and that of the Inquisition.
Discuss the difference between each of these perspectives, asking:
1) what is the benandanti's view of themselves and their own social role?
2) what is the Inquisitor's interpretation of them and their activities?
(see the sentences at end of trial, as well as questions during trial)
Analyses of Witch Trial Documents: these topics involve close reading and analysis of trail
them in their historical context by using secondary source. More information on these documents and
sources for background in each case is posted on separate link: PAPER TOPICS ON TRIAL DOCUMENTS
6. England: Chelmsford trials (text in Kors & Peters)
7. France/Low Countries: Suzanne Gaudry (text in Kors & Peters)
8. Germany: Walpurga Hausmannin (text available on link)
9. Salem trials (Godbeer volume).
Topic requiring reading of additional materials:
10. Midwives represent a controversial case; although some were accused as witches,
for the most part they were
respected and trusted members of the community. Still there was a stereotype, beginning with the Malleus, that
viewed midwives with suspicion. Discuss the case for and against “midwives as witches,” drawing on the
Malleus' comments, on trials such as that against Walpurga Hausmann (included in xeroxed packet Readings
for Week 7) and on the following articles which have a link indicated below::
David Harley, "Historians as demonologists: myth of midwife-witch," Social History of Medicine, Vol 3 (1990) 1-26
Lyndal Roper, “Witchcraft & fantasy,” from Oedipus and the Devil, on “lying in maids” in xerox packet
Myriam Greilsammer, "The midwife, the priest &
the physician: subjugation of midwives in Low Countries at end of
Middle Ages," Journal of Medieval & Ren. Studies, Vol. 21 (1991) pp. 285-323 )
Monica Green, "Women's Medical Practice & Health
in Medieval Europe," Signs: Journal of Women in Culture &
Society Vol. 154 (1989) pp. 434-473
Link to this article: http://www.jstor.org.offcampus.lib.washington.edu/stable/3174557