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Module Specifications..

Current Academic Year 2023 - 2024

Please note that this information is subject to change.

Module Title Witchhunting in Early Modern Europe
Module Code HY342
School 68
Module Co-ordinatorSemester 1: Celeste McNamara
Semester 2: Celeste McNamara
Autumn: Celeste McNamara
Module TeachersGrania Shanahan
Celeste McNamara
NFQ level 8 Credit Rating 10
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None

From the fifteenth through the seventeenth centuries, across Europe, many people were accused of practicing witchcraft and thousands were executed for this purported crime. Studying early modern witch crazes is an exercise in explaining the unexplainable. Early modern people strongly believed in the reality of witchcraft, accusing people of things we cannot prove happened, and which many people now would assert are not possible. But it is not good historical practice to simply say we know better, or that early modern people were irrational. Instead, we strive to understand their world, to see why the accusation of witchcraft was an explanation often reached for by early modern people. This requires examining law, religion, politics, community tensions, economics, gender, and climate. Historians also struggle to answer questions about why certain places executed thousands of accused witches while others adopted much more lenient modes of punishment. In this module, we will explore both of these elements, trying to deepen our understanding of the place of witchcraft in early modern society and to better understand why some places suffered witch crazes while others dealt with the problem of witchcraft less violently.

Learning Outcomes

1. Demonstrate comprehension of the similarities and differences in witch hunting practices across 15th-17th century Europe.
2. Explain various potential causes of witchcrazes with historical sensitivity.
3. Identify, access, and critically analyse primary sources for the history of witchcraft and witch hunting in medieval and early modern Europe.
4. Identify, access, and critical engage with secondary sources on the history of witchcraft and witch hunting.
5. Present historical arguments supported by secondary and primary sources

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Independent Study202Independent Study, reading, Assignment preparation and completion
Total Workload: 250

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

Definitions of Witchcraft and Witchcrazes

Intellectual Foundations of Witchcrazes

Legal Foundations of Witchcrazes

Impact of the Reformation

Social Context of Witchcrazes

The Dynamics of Witch Hunting

Chronology and Geography of Witchcrazes

Decline and End of Witch Hunting

Legacies of Witchcrazes

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment100% Examination Weight0%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
EssayEssay 3500-4000 words Assignments x 4 (Bibliography, Outline, Draft, Peer Review)70%As required
ParticipationPreparation (group annotations) and participation in class sessions30%n/a
Reassessment Requirement Type
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
This module is category 1
Indicative Reading List

  • ed. Johannes Dillinger: 2020, The Routledge History of Witchcraft, Routledge,
  • ed. Brian Levack: 2013, The Oxford Handbook of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe and Colonial America The Witchcraft Reader, Oxford,
  • ed. Bengt Ankarloo and Stuart Clark: 2002, Witchcraft and Magic in Europe: The Period of the Witch Trials, University of Pennsylvania,
  • eds. Marianne Hester, Jonathan Barry, Gareth Roberts: 1996, Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe: Studies in Culture and Belief, Cambridge,
  • ed. Bengt Ankarloo and Stuart Clark: 1999, Witchcraft and Magic in Europe: The Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, University of Pennsylvania,
  • ed. Brian Levack: 2015, The Witchcraft Sourcebook, Routledge,
  • ed. Peter Morton, Barbara Dahms: 2005, The Trial of Tempel Anneke, University of Toronto,
  • ed. Alan Kors: 2000, Witchcraft in Europe, 400-1700, University of Pennsylvania,
Other Resources

53272, Loop, 0, Key readings and additional resources for research will be posted on Loop,
Programme or List of Programmes
BAJHBachelor of Arts (BAJH)
BAJHIBachelor of Arts (BAJHI)
BAJLBachelor of Arts (BAJL)
BAJLIBachelor of Arts (BAJLI)
BAJLNBachelor of Arts (BAJLN) - Intra Law
BAJPBachelor of Arts (BAJP)
BAJPIBachelor of Arts (BAJPI)
BAJPNBachelor of Arts (BAJPN) - Intra P

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