Attendance: Two absences are allowed before a student may be dropped from the course. Papers

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History 304

Seminar on the Salem Witchcraft Episode

Instructor: Philip N. Racine

Office: Main 107

Phone: Ext. 4531 or 582- 4342 (home)

Office Hours: MW 1:00 - 4:00 and TR 11:00 - 12:00; or by appointment

Attendance: Two absences are allowed before a student may be dropped from the course.

Papers: There will be no tests. Papers will be assigned during the course. Papers may not be late without the professor's approval prior to the day the paper is due. Students will make comments and ask questions on the reading prior to the Tuesday class meeting in emails to the professor. These emails should be at least several paragraphs long, and they are due by 1:00 PM Tuesdays. If any emails are missed, they must be made up to fulfill the requirements of passing the course. My email address is: The emails permit immediate reaction by the professor, and the student generated questions may be used in class discussion.

Final Grade: The final grade will include the grades on the papers (30%), a grade on class participation (40%), and a grade on the questions and comments made by e-mail (30%).

Course objectives: (1) to become familiar with the witchcraft phenomenon during the 17th century with emphasis on the outbreak in Salem, Mass. (2) to become familiar with various approaches to the study of witchcraft from the perspective of several disciplines (3) to compare and contrast some of the various interpretations of the witchcraft phenomena in Salem (4) to become more aware of how historians do their work

Course’s Relationship to Department Goals

This course helps the history department reach its goals by covering the following dimensions of history widely perceived as crucial for a well-rounded view of the world:

  • political developments;

  • significant intellectual movements and debates;

  • and socio-cultural issues of race & ethnicity,

  • class,

  • and gender.

 Students will also gain some exposure to how history is practiced by

  • learning how history is interpreted,

  • assessing and critiquing arguments made by historians,

  • evaluating and using primary and secondary sources,

 Last, students will discuss issues that provide an important perspective on the contemporary world.
Course Content: An investigation of the phenomenon of Witchcraft in 17th century New England. A careful reading of several interpretations of witchcraft in Salem and a comparison of the evidence on which each is based. Some attention to the uses to which the Salem episode has been put by several writers.
Methods of instruction: One formal lecture by the instructor; otherwise, daily class discussion of the reading with much close textual analysis.
Reminder of the Wofford Honor Code:


Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum, Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft

Chadwick Hansen, Witchcraft at Salem

Frances Hill, The Salem Witch Craft Trials Reader

Richard Godbeer, Escaping Salem: The Other Witch Hunt of 1692

Peter Charles Hoffer, The Devil’s Disciples: Makers of the Salem Witchcraft Trials

Mary Beth Norton, In The Devil’s Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692

Marion L. Starkey, The Devil in Massachusetts: A Modern Enquiry into the Salem Witch Trials

5 Introduction (Procedures and Responsibilities)

7 Lecture on Puritanism

12 Starkey to p. 128

14 Hill Reader, Part I

19 Starkey to p. 270

21 Hill Reader, Part II

26 Hansen to p. 155



4 Hansen to p. 286

6 Paper Due

11 Boyer to p. 109

13 Hill Reader, Part III

18 Boyer to p. 221

20 Hill Reader, Part IV

25 Hoffer to p. 101





10 Hoffer to p. 204

15 Godbeer, ALL


22 Norton to p. 111

24 Norton to p. 155

29 Norton to p. 266


1 Paper Due

6 Norton to p. 313


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