Witches and Witch Hunting in Europe

Subject HIST20025 (2010)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2010.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 2 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2010:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 1.5-hour lecture and a 1-hour tutorial per week
Total Time Commitment: 8.5 hours per week: total time commitment 102 hours
Prerequisites: Completion of 12.5 points at first-year in history or one of the Faculty of Arts' Interdisciplinary Foundation (IDF) subjects
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: 671-392 Witches and Witch Hunting in Europe
Core Participation Requirements: For the purposes of considering requests for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this course are articulated in the Course Description, Course Objectives and Generic Skills of this entry.
The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website: http://www.services.unimelb.edu.au/disability/


Dr Jenny Spinks


Dr Jenny Spinks


Subject Overview:

This subject is a study of beliefs about witches and witchcraft. The subject traces the social, political, legal and cultural changes which led to witch trials and witch-hunts in western Europe and New England between the late middle ages and the end of the 17th century. Students will focus on the transformation of popular sorcery and magic into the heresy and crime of witchcraft, the social dynamics of trials, regional variations throughout Europe, and the role of gender and sexuality in the creation of panics.

  • be able to identify and understand the different social, legal and religious processes by which popular sorcery was transformed into the belief system and crime of witchcraft in early modern Europe.
  • appreciate the ways in which a category such as "the witch" can be historically contructed.
  • understand the extent to which large-scale moral panics are dependent on a wide range of cultural discourses and institutional supports.
Assessment: A document exercise of 1000 words 25% (due during the semester), a research essay of 3000 words 65% (due at the end of semester) and class participation 10%.
Prescribed Texts:

A subject reader will be available.

Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • demonstrate research skills through competent use of the library and other information sources.
  • show critical thinking and analysis through recommended reading, essay writing and tutorial discussion, and by determining the strength of an argument.
  • demonstrate understanding of social, ethical and cultural context through the contextualisation of judgements, developing a critical self-awareness, being open to new ideas and possibilities and by constructing an argument.
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Ancient, Medieval && Early Modern Studies Major
European Studies
Gender Studies
Gender Studies
Gender Studies
Gender Studies Major
History Major

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