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Knowledge, Power and Nature 1500-1700 - Term 2 Week 1


Seminar Reading

Stuart W. Clark, ‘The Rational Witchfinder: Conscience, Demonological Naturalism and Popular Superstitions,’ in Science, Culture and Popular Belief in Renaissance Europe, ed. Stephen Pumfrey, Paolo L. Rossi, and Maurice Slawinski (New York,1991).

Ruggiero, Guido, ‘The Strange Death of Margarita Marcellini: Male, Signs and the World of Pre-Modern Medicine’, American Historical Review 106, 4 (2001): 1141-1158.

Grafton, Anthony, ‘The Devil as Automaton: Giovanni Fontana and the Meanings of a Fifteenth-Century Machine’, in Genesis Redux: Essays in the History and Philosophy of Artificial Life, ed. by Jessica Riskin (Chicago, 2007), pp. 46-62.

Seminar/Essay Questions

  • Is there a strict boundary between science and magic or superstition in the sixteenth century?
  • ‘Early modern contemporaries were simply intellectually backwards because they considered magic and religion part of their investigation into natural phenomenon.’ Discuss.
  • 'Magic was central to the understanding of nature and the human body in the early modern period.' Discus.

Further Reading

(there is endless stuff on witchcraft and magic in the library; also check the sessions on the body and medicine)

Bono, James, ‘Medical Spirits and the Medieval Language of Life’, Traditio 40 (1984): 91-130.

Bonzol, Judith, ‘The Medical Diagnosis of Demoniac Possession in an Early Modern English Community’, Parergon 26,1 (2009): 115-140.

Caciola, Nancy, ‘Mystics, Demoniacs, and the Physiology of Spirit Possession in Medieval Europe’, Comparative Studies in Society and History 42, 2 (2000): 268-306.

Clark, Stuart, Thinking with Demons: The Idea of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe (Oxford, 1997), particularly chapter 2, Science: pp. 149-294

-- Languages of Witchcraft: Narrative, Ideology, and Meaning in Early Modern Culture (Basingstoke, 2001).

-- Vanities of the Eye: Vision in Early Modern European Culture (Oxford, 2007), Chapters 4-6 deal with questions of perception of possession and the understanding of early modern sight.

Darr, Orna, Marks of an Absolute Witch (Farnam, 2011).

Dear, Peter, 'Miracles, Experiments, and the Ordinary Cause of Nature', The History of Science Society 81,4 (1990): 663-683.

Harvey, Ruth, The Inward Wits: Physiological Theory in the Middle Ages and in the Renaissance (London, 1975).

Lederer, David, Madness, Religion and the State in Early Modern Europe: A Bavarian Beacon (Cambridge, 2009).

Oldridge, Darren, The Witchcraft Reader, 2nd ed. (London and New York, 2002). (in library)

Park, Katharine, ‘The Organic Soul’, in The Cambridge History of Renaissance Philosophy, ed. by Charles B. Schmitt and Quentin Skinner (Cambridge, 1988), pp. 464-484.

Rather, L.J. ‘The Six Non-Naturals: A Note on the Origins and Fate of a Doctrine and a Phrase’, Clio Medica 3 (1968): 336-47.

Roper, Lyndal, Witch Craze: Terror and Fantasy in Baroque Germany (New Haven, 2004).

Schoenfeldt, Bodies and Selves in Early Modern England: Physiology and Inwardness in Spencer, Shakespeare, Herbert and Milton (Cambridge, 1999).

Serjeanton, ‘The Soul’, in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy in Early Modern Europe, ed. by Desmond M. Clarke and Catharine Wilson (Oxford, 2011), pp. 119-141.

Vidal, Fernando, ‘Miracles, Science, and Testimony in Post-Tridentine Saint-Making’, Science in Context 20 (2007): 481-508.

Siraisi, Nancy E., Medieval & Early Renaissance Medicine: an Introduction to Knowledge and Practice (Chicago, 1990), Chapter 4, pp. 78-115. (electronice resources library)/