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Elite and Popular Cultures

| Discussion topics | Documents | Audio | Reading |

Discussion topics and Essay Questions

a) Popular and Elite Cultures

  • Why have historians struggled to define 'popular culture'?
  • Is the distinction between 'elite' and 'popular' meaningful?
  • Did the spread of printing draw elite and popular culture closer together, or drive them further apart?

b) Witchcraft

  • Were the European witch hunts primarily a war against women?
  • Why did the legal pursuit of witches make less sense in 1750 than in 1500?


**NOTE: Some eresources are accessible only on-campus or via off-campus proxies or the athens service**





Popular and Elite Culture


Popular and Elite Culture



Audio/Video Links:

  • BBC Radio 4 'In Our Time' programme on Witchcraft and 'The Salem Witch Trials'
  • Witch-Hunt Sources, video discussion with Brian Levack about the early modern European Witch-hunt
  • BBC 'A History of the World in 100 Objects': Dürer's Rhinoceros (see 'Images' in documents section above)
  • The Watersons, ‘Swarthfell Rocks’, modern rendering of The Fox chace: or, The huntsman’s harmony (see 'Texts' in 'Documents' section above) [Spotify]

Search for suitable versions of the following pieces on hhtp://

  • 'The Gelding of the Devil', composed by John Playford
  • 'New Oysters', composed by Thomas Ravenscroft

Secondary literature

Selected Key Texts:Popular and Elite Culture

Selected Key Texts: Witchcraft

Further reading

a) Popular and elite culture
b) Witchcraft

Module Forum

Module Homepage



External Links

The Robin Hood Project - database of texts, images and bibliographies about the Robin Hood stories and other outlaw tales

The Elizabethan Noble Style - information and documents relating to Elizabethan noble dress, cusoms and manners

Shakespeare's Plays in Quarto - copies of 21 of Shakespeare's plays

16thC Printing: visualization of the process from arranging letters to decorating book covers (V&A).

Cornell Witch pages - Witchcraft Collection held by Cornell University Library

Survey of Scottish Witchcraft - digital resource relating to the history of witchcraft and witch-hunting in Scotland

Books of Magical Charms - digital copies of two early modern Books of Magical charms from seventeenth-century England (part of the Newberry Library's 'Transcribing Faith' project)

Witchcraft Legends - collection of legends and folktales about witchcraft

Witchcraft and Magic - short commentary and documents relating to witchcraft, as part of 'Virtual Norfolk' project

The Damned Art: The History of Witchcraft and Demonology - an exhibition of books relating to the history of witchcraft and demonology