Witches of the Atlantic World: An Historical Reader and Primary Sourcebook

Witches of the Atlantic World: An Historical Reader and Primary Sourcebook

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  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publish Date: 2000-09-01


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This unique anthology is the first to provide a multicultural perspective on witchcraft from the 15th to 18th century. Featuring primary documents as well as scholarly interpretations, Witches of the Atlantic World builds upon information regarding both Christian and non-Christian beliefs about possession and the demonic. Elaine G. Breslaw draws on Native American, African, South American, and African-American sources, as well as the European and New England heritage, to illuminate the ways in which witchcraft in early America was an attempt to understand and control evil and misfortune in the New World.

Organized into sections on folklore and magic, diabolical possession, Christian perspectives, and the question of gender, the volume includes selections by Cotton Mather, Matthew Hopkins, and Samuel Willard, among others; Salem trial testimonies; and commentary by a host of distinguished scholars.

Together the materials demonstrate how the Protestant and Catholic traditions shaped American concepts, and how multicultural aspects played a key role in the Salem experience. Witches of the Atlantic World sheds new light on one of the most perplexing aspects of American history and provides important background for the continued scholarly and popular interest in witches and witchcraft today.

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