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Course Descriptions: Spring 2014 - HTY 398: Heresy, Witchcraft, and Superstition in Pre-Modern Europe

Instructor:  Angela Haas

Time:  Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; 9:00 – 9:50 am

Description:  This course focuses on the evolution of three interrelated concepts:  heresy, witchcraft, and superstition.  Social, political, intellectual, and cultural shifts led Europeans to change their conceptions of religious orthodoxy over time.  Thus, a devout Christian in one historical context could easily be considered a heretic, a witch, or a superstitious fool in another.  A close examination of primary and secondary sources will allow us to delve into the mentality of pre-modern Europeans as we seek to answer the question,  “What forms of religious beliefs and practices were considered unacceptable in a particular time and place, and why?”  We will consider the impact that major historical event – including the Black Death, Protestant Reformation, Wars of Religion, and Scientific Revolution – had upon the religious beliefs and mentalities of Europeans.  In each of these contexts, particular attention will be paid to the perpetually shifting “grey areas” between heresy and orthodoxy, superstition and religion, and science and magic.

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