EN3012 Witchcraft and Drama

Course Director: Mr Roy Booth

A 'specimen' exam paper for you to undertake as part of your revision, here: EN3012exercise.htm.

The 2004 exam paper:30122004.htm

A report on the 2004 exam: Report,%203012.htm

A simpler link to a copy of the 2002 paper, here: EN3010%20English%20Drama%201576.htm

Other past papers: 2001exam.htm; pastpaper.htm (2003).

Hans Baldung Grien, Witches

(This course is done by some students as the second part of EN3010 English Drama 1576-1642, a full course unit taught over two terms. However it has mainly been chosen as a half-unit on its own.)

Form: 10 lectures and 10 seminars in the Spring term. Please note that the lectures will not be delivered in a fully formal manner: questions will be expected and encouraged. Students must read the texts prior to the lecture (of course, the major opportunity for group discussion of the texts will be during the seminars).

Scope: The texts covered span virtually the whole period in which early modern English drama flourished: from Marlowe in c.1593 to 1634. The texts range from famous plays like Macbeth and The Tempest to little-known comedies like The Wise-woman of Hogsden. Two central texts will be The Witch of Edmonton and The Late Lancashire Witches, plays which deal with historically documented witchcraft accusations and scares.

The phenomenon of witchcraft, and the persecution of ‘witches’ during outbreaks of witchcraft hysteria has fascinated historians: the historical component of this course will be large. Accordingly, non-dramatic texts about witchcraft are also included for study in the course. These will include news pamphlets, works by learned contemporaries expressing their opinions about witchcraft, popular ballads and other archival texts.

Learning outcomes: By the end of the course a wide, even disparate series of texts will have been read and studied. Some of these plays still do not have modern scholarly editions that present the text in modernised spellings, or the usual editorial assistance to the reader in the form of footnotes and additional editorial stage directions. Therefore there will sometimes be the challenge of reading an unmediated text, and of making judgements on texts where there is no large repertoire of critical commentary to consult. The plays may well also seem artistically, even morally inadequate to the inherently distressing subject they handle. The course, therefore, confronts the participant with coping with historical sources, with evaluating minor plays from outside the normally anthologised canon, and the challenge of assessing plays in which the moral authority of the dramatist is itself debatable.

Course requirements. Coursework will consist of one major required essay, and one (or two) seminar presentations. The essay usually involves a comparison of the two central texts, The Witch of Edmonton and The Late Lancashire Witches. A second, non-compulsory essay will be set for revision purposes, to be done (if wished) as a timed exercise.

In seminar presentations, this course has always benefited by having Socrates and JYA students present. Typical topics for short presentations might be to report on 16th-17th century witchcraft scares in a home area (and therefore students from Scotland, Germany, New England, Switzerland have all in the past made valuable contributions to our awareness of witchcraft as a European phenomenon). A complete list of presentations required for Spring 2004 is given at the following webpage: coursework3012.htm.

Assessment will be by a two-hour question paper. The paper may include a passage for comment chosen from one of the texts, but this will not be compulsory.

Grien, Flight to the Sabbath


Other web pages:

Texts for Seminars: Extracts from Robert Armin, The Valiant Welshman:ValiantWelshman.htm

from Lodovyck Carlell's Arviragus and Philicia.htm

Extracts%20from%20John%20Bale.htm for John Bale's anti-Catholic use of witchcraft in his allegorical play, The Three Laws ('Idolatry' - or Catholicism - is a witch).

For a similar early Jacobean anti-Catholic use of witchcraft in Thomas Dekker's The Whore of Babylon, go to Dekker.htm


For a brief Chronological Table, follow this link: chronology.htm

For some more images, follow this link: Witches'Sabbath.htm. This webpage (which will load quite slowly if consulted off-campus) includes a large number of contemporary visual interpretations of witchcraft. Separate webpages are devoted to the images of Hans Baldung Grien and Jacques de Gheyn II (via links at the top of the first image webpage).

For an extract from George Giffard's A Dialogue concerning Witches and Witchcraft (1603), follow this link: Giffard-Dialogue.htm

For an extract from a contemporary pamphlet illustrative of a magistrate in action, securing confessions to witchcraft, follow this link: WitchConfesses.htm


Lectures and Seminars

Lectures will be given on the following topics:

Week 1: Introduction. An account of an English witchcraft case, as recounted in The Witches of Warboys, 1593.

Week 2: The lecture will focus on Elizabeth Sawyer, as represented in Goodcole's pamphlet and the play, The Witch of Edmonton.

Week 3: King James, the Berwick witch scare, his Demonologia and Macbeth.

Week 4: Fascination and love charms, or, ligatory knots and how to tie them!

Week 5: The Lancashire Witch Cases, 1612 and 1633.

Week 7: John Dee, Elizabethan wizards, and The Tempest.

Week 8: The Devil, and Elizabethan Drama

Week 9: Exorcism cases in England and abroad.

Week 10: This lecture will advise on preparation for the examination.

The last Friday of term is Easter Friday, and will not be available for teaching. This session will not take place.Week 11: The lecture will look at Miller's The Crucible as a basis for comparison with the 16th and 17th century texts. Please note that this does NOT make 'The Crucible' a text on which questions will be set or answers expected in the examination.


Seminar texts

Week 1. Preliminary archive text: follow this link: Elizabeth-Cary.htm

Then, main text: Marlowe, Dr Faustus (1594)

Grandier's pact

This document (above) purported to be Urbane Grandier's pact with the devil, 1633. It was of course a forgery.

This text will be considered in the ‘A’ and ‘B’ text versions. The Oxford Marlowe, Dr Faustus and other plays (ed. David Bevington and Eric Rasmussen) is the recommended edition (as it was for EN2010 Renaissance Literature).

It is recommended that you read Nicholas Brooke, 'The Moral Tragedy of Dr Faustus' (in the restricted loan collection of articles photocopied under licence from journals not taken by RHUL) and Robert H. West, 'The Impatient Magic of Dr Faustus', English Literary Renaissance 4 (1974).

Week 2. Dekker (Thomas), Ford (John) and Rowley (William): The Witch of Edmonton (1621)

Elizabeth Sawyer on title page of Goodcole

In Peter Corbin and Douglas Sedge, Three Jacobean Witchcraft Plays (The Revels Companion Library, 1986)

The accompanying text will be the source text for the dramatists, Henry Goodcole's The Wonderful Discovery of Elizabeth Sawyer. This can be read either in Marion Gibson's Early Modern Witches, or on the EEBO site.

The play in performance: see http://www.Shakespearedc.org/gallery/g8788.html and http://www.shu.ac.uk/emls/07-1/revnicol.htm

Articles on the play in jstor: 1. David Atkinson, 'Moral Knowledge and the double action in The Witch of Edmonton:

http://www.jstor.org/view/00393657/ap020099/02a00090/0?currentResult=00393657%2bap020099%2b02a00090%2b0%2c00&searchUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.jstor.org%2Fsearch%2FResults%3FQuery%3D%26hp%3D25%26so%3Dnull%26si%3D1%26mo%3Das%26All%3Dwitch%2Bof%2Bedmonton%26Exact%3D%26One%3D%26None%3D%26ti%3Don%26ab%3Don%26sd%3D%26ed%3D%26jt%3D

2. Leonora Brodwin, 'The domestic tragedy of Frank Thorney in The Witch of Edmonton':

http://www.jstor.org/view/00393657/ap020027/02a00080/0?currentResult=00393657%2bap020027%2b02a00080%2b0%2c00&searchUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.jstor.org%2Fsearch%2FResults%3FQuery%3D%26hp%3D25%26so%3Dnull%26si%3D1%26mo%3Das%26All%3Dwitch%2Bof%2Bedmonton%26Exact%3D%26One%3D%26None%3D%26ti%3Don%26ab%3Don%26sd%3D%26ed%3D%26jt%3D

Week 3. Shakespeare, Macbeth (c.1605)

Macbeth meets the witches, in Holinshed's Chronicle

º The accompanying text will be the pamphlet: News from Scotland (photocopies provided). It tells of the Berwick witch scare, and King James avid participation in the trials. Grotesque and disturbing: Scotland had no law against torture.

For this session, make sure that you read Stephen Greenblatt's 'Shakespeare Bewitched' in Susan Zimmerman (ed.), Shakespeare's Tragedies: Contemporary Critical Essays (London: Macmillan, 1998). RHUL shelfmark 824D Sha. The link http://www.arts.ed.ac.uk/witches/index.html leads you to a general website about ScottishWitchcraft.

Relevant JSTOR article: Sharon Jaech, 'Political Prophecy and Macbeth's 'sweet bodements': http://www.jstor.org/view/00373222/di982060/98p0513t/0?currentResult=00373222%2bdi982060%2b98p0513t%2b0%2c00&searchUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.jstor.org%2Fsearch%2FResults%3FQuery%3D%26hp%3D25%26so%3DNewestFirst%26si%3D76%26mo%3Das%26All%3Dmacbeth%26Exact%3D%26One%3D%26None%3D%26ti%3Don%26ab%3Don%26sd%3D%26ed%3D%26jt%3D

http://uk.jstor.org/view/00346551/ap020097/02a00060/0?currentResult=00346551%2bap020097%2b02a00060%2b0%2c00&searchUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fuk.jstor.org%2Fsearch%2FResults%3FQuery%3D%26hp%3D25%26so%3Dnull%26si%3D1%26mo%3Das%26All%3Dhecate%26Exact%3D%26One%3D%26None%3D%26ti%3Don%26ab%3Don%26ar%3Don%26sd%3D%26ed%3D%26jt%3D%26dc%3DHistory%26dc%3DLiterature

Week 4. Middleton, Thomas, The Witch (1612)

witches at a cauldron, 1489

(Witches add ingredients to a cauldron in this woodcut of 1489: this text features a typical cauldron scene)

In Corbin and Sedge (above) or in the New Mermaids edition, ed. Elizabeth Scafer (1994). Discussion by Anne Lancashire, ‘The Witch: stage flop or political mistake’, in Kenneth Friedenreich (ed.) Accompanyinge the Players.

Here is an additional page explaining the relationship between this play, the Wells-Taylor edited Macbeth, and Jonson's Masque of Queens: witch&macbeth&masque.htm

º Accompanying texts will be Shakespeare's Henry VI, Part 1, and Henry VI, Part 2 (c.1590)

There are good editions by Michael Hattaway (The New Cambridge Shakespeare, 1990,1991) or New Arden texts edited by Edward Burns (Henry VI, Part I, 2000) see his introduction p.23 onwards for discussion of Joan of Arc; with Part 2 edited by Ronald Knowles (1999). The connection here is of course with Shakespeare’s other witches.

Week 5. Heywood (Thomas), and Brome (Richard), The Late Lancashire Witches (1634)

It is a pity that Corbin and Sedge did not include this text in their ‘Three Jacobean Witchcraft Plays’ ahead of ‘Sophonisba’. Gabriel Egan has done a new edition of the play, but for those who cannot afford it, copies of the play on floppy disc will be supplied (or it can be read on the Chadwyck-Healey LION database, OR A FULL EDITION OF THE PLAY IS AVAILABLE HERE: (New imrpoved text!: Lancashire%20witches.wps.htm). Additional material germane to Thomas Heywood's view of witchcraft has been posted here: Heywood.htmThere is an article about the play posted at http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/journal_of_medieval_and_early_modern_studies/v030/30.2hirschfield.html

For a visual equivalent to the play's literary art, visit the new gallery (July, 2004) of images by David Teniers: David%20Teniers.htm


(Consultation Week)

Week 7. Shakespeare, The Tempest. (1611)

Burghmaier, white king

In Hans Burghmair's illustration for The White King,

the possibility of two kinds of magic is set before the young prince:

the witch, with her devil, and the learned mage, an angel over his head.

Discussion of The Tempest in Peter G. Platt, Reason Diminished: Shakespeare and the Marvellous (1997)

º Alongside this famous text, we will also consider Robert Greene's Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay (c.1590), for its depiction of a learned mage, who also repents of his art.

A Charlatan: follow this link to extracts dealing with Forobosco, a conjurer in the play, The Fair Maid of the Inn: Fair-Maid-Of-The-Inn.htm For a picture of John Dee, go to my page of English woodcuts, Woodcuts_of_witches.htm

Week 8. Jonson, Ben, The Masque of Queenes (1609) in the Herford and Simpson Ben Jonson Vol. VII p.267, with commentary in vol. X, p. 491ff. Follow this link for images of masquers and of witches: Masque-images.htm. The 'masque-images' page also includes a link to a wave file of the music for the dance of the witches (with some attempt to explain why you mustn't expect anything really freaky!). Please note that this text is available without Ben Jonson's notes, on the Chadwyck-Healey LION database.

Read: Lawrence Normand, 'Witches, King James, and The Masque of Queens inRepresenting Women in Renaissance England ed Claude Summers and Ted-Larry Pebworth (1997)

º Alongside this masque text, as the final development of what Diane Purkiss calls the ‘all-singing, all-dancing witches’ of the Stuart stage, Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas (1689 - opera).

You will be asked to listen to the music Purcell wrote for the witches.

Week 9. Witchcraft and possession in further texts by Ben Jonson.

Primarily, The Devil is an Ass (1616) – the play is full of references to practitioners of magic, but more largely concerned with possession. Follow this link to a page giving a background chronology to the text: Jonson-Devil.htm

ºAlongside this play we will consider Jonson's late pastoral drama, The Sad Shepherd. Follow this link to edited extracts from that text: Jonsonsadshepherd.htm. We will also remind ourselves of the use of the idea of possession in Volpone, and Subtle, the Alchemist, as a charlatan version of the mage.

Week 10.

Preliminary text: a late witch ballad. Follow this link: WitchcraftBallads.htm

Marston (John), Sophonisba, or, the Wonder of Women (1605)

Text in Corbin and Sedge. Discussion in Philip Finkelpearl, John Marston of the Middle Temple (1969).

ºThough it is scarcely linked to the Marston play by anything other than those words ‘Women’ and ‘Woman’ in the titles, in this week we will also look at Thomas Heywood’s comedy, The Wise-Woman of Hogsden (1604), which depicts an urban ‘cunning-woman’.

Week 11. The session will examine the metaphorical use of ‘witch’ and ‘witchcraft’, especially in relation to Ford's Perkin Warbeck and Arthur Miller's The Crucible.

For background materials on the Salem witch panic of 1692, go to the superb collection of documents at http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/salem/witchcraft/ and for a rather testy but pointed discussion of Miller's use of the historical facts, see http://www.17thc.us/docs/fact-fiction.shtml

Students will be set to research references to witchcraft, charming, spells (etc) in a range of specified Shakespeare texts (eg., Twelfth Night, Antony and Cleopatra), but the specific focus will be on John Fords late history play, Perkin Warbeck.

We will also remind ourselves that the Elizabethans were not all grossly credulous and inquisatorial, by looking at a few extracts from Reginald Scot's The Discoverie of Witchcraft (1584).

Additional Texts: Extracts are provided elsewhere on this website from Lodowyck Carlell’s Aviragus and Philicia (1639) and Robert Armin’s The Valiant Welshman. These texts will be called upon as further examples of witchcraft scenes, or even set for seminar presentations. Non-dramatic texts which might also be used in this way include King James VI and I, Demonologie (1597), and (just possibly), Sprenger’s Malleus Maleficorum (the title of this infamous book means literally, ‘The Hammer of the Female Witches’).

Bibliography: Witchcraft and Drama

You should be aware that most of the books recommended for this course are in the Bedford Library (History section), at the shelf mark 301.542 (plus the first three letters of the author's name, usually). You should also note that the Library shelves History MA theses (eg, Magda Sterling, 'The Children of Witches'). Some of these may be of interest to you, but you will of course be aware of the different academic status of the author. Cite them in the normal form if you do consult such theses.

Priority reading=*

Ankarloo, Bengt, and Gustav Henningsen (eds.), Early Modern European Witchcraft: Centres and Peripheries (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990). This book is chiefly important for its inclusion of the essay by Ginzburg (below).

Barry, Jonathan, Marianne Hester, and Gareth Roberts (eds.), Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe: Studies in Culture and Belief (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).

Briggs, Robin, Witches and Neighbors: The Social and Cultural Context of European Witchcraft (New York: Viking, 1996). Note that the Library also has offprints of his chapter 7: 'Men against Women'

Clark, Stuart, Thinking with Demons: the Idea of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997). An immense study at 680+ pages. Does the inescapable ‘Women and witchcraft’ topic at pp.106-133. The Library also has offprints of this important chapter.

In JSTOR: http://uk.jstor.org/view/00312746/ap020089/02a00070/0?currentResult=00312746%2bap020089%2b02a00070%2b0%2c42004002&searchUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fuk.jstor.org%2Fsearch%2FResults%3FQuery%3D%26hp%3D25%26so%3Dnull%26si%3D1%26mo%3Das%26All%3Dwitch%2Bof%2Bedmonton%26Exact%3D%26One%3D%26None%3D%26ar%3Don%26sd%3D%26ed%3D%26jt%3D%26dc%3DHistory%26dc%3DLiterature

Clark, Stuart, (ed.), Languages of Witchcraft (Macmillan, 2001).

Jorden, Edward, Mary Glover Case, and Michael MacDonald (eds.), Witchcraft and Hysteria in Elizabethan London (London: Tavistock/Routledge, 1991).

Gibson, Marion, Early Modern Witches: Witchcraft Cases in Contemporary Writing(Routledge, 2000)

Gibson, Marion, Reading Witchcraft: Stories of Early English Witches (Routledge, 1999)

Ginzburg, Carlo, ‘Deciphering the Sabbath’ in Ankarloo Bengt and Gustav Henningsen (eds.). Early Modern European Witchcraft: Centres and Peripheries (as above, pp.121-37).

Ginzburg, Carlo, Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches Sabbath (translation of his Storia Notturna, 1989) by Raymond Rosenthal, 1991. Speculative; immense historical perspective on those who thought they battled against ‘the armies of the night’, a thrilling book in itself, though irrelevant to these plays and what they depict.

* Greenblatt, Stephen, Shakespeare Bewitched in Jeffrey N. Cox and Larry J. Reynolds (eds), New Historical Literary Study: Essays on Reproducing Texts, Representing History (Princeton University Press, 1993), pp.108-35 , or in Susan Zimmerman (ed.), Shakespeare's Tragedies: Contemporary Critical Essays (London: Macmillan, 1998). [824D Sha]

*Harris, Anthony, Night’s Black Agents: Witchcraft and Magic in 17th century English Drama (Manchester, 1979).

Lamer, Christina, Enemies of God: the Witch-hunt in Scotland (1981)

Lamer, Christina, Witchcraft and Religion (1984)

Levack, Brian P., The Witchcraft Sourcebook (Routledge, 2003-4). On order for library, publication date was listed as Dec 2003.

Macfarlane, Alan, Witchcraft in Tudor and Stuart England: a regional and comparative study (London: Routledge, 1970). A closely sociological study, largely about witches in Essex. Analyses closely the progression from suspicion to ill reputation to bringing of the final charge of witchcraft: it was not usually a single extraordinary occurrence that prompted accusation.

Maxwell-Stuart, P. G., Witchcraft in Europe and the New World, 1400-1800 (Palgrave, 2001). This brief account could be a rival to Scarre's monograph as a short introduction to the historical phenomenon of witchcraft, and possibly should be * marked as essential (but I haven't seen it yet)

Normand, Lawrence, Witchcraft in Early Modern Scotland (Exeter, University of Exeter Press, 2000)

Normand, Lawrence, 'Witches, King James, and The Masque of Queens inRepresenting Women in Renaissance England ed. Claude Summers and Ted-Larry Pebworth (University of Missouri Press, 1997).

Oldridge, Darren, The Witchcraft Reader (Routledge, 2003). Collection of important articles, on order for library.

*301.542.Pur: Purkiss, Diane, The Witch in History: early modern and 20th century representations (London: Routledge, 1990). Acerbic, plenty to say about the drama, debunks ‘the myth of the burning times’ with surprising vigour.

Roper, Lyndal, Oedipus and the Devil: Witchcraft, Sexuality and Religion in Early Modern Europe (New York and London: Routledge, 1994).

Roberts, Gareth, ‘The Descendants of Circe: Witches and Renaissance Fictions’ in Jonathan Barry, Marianne Hester and Gareth Roberts (eds.), Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe: Studies in Culture and Belief (Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp.183-206.

Rosen, Barbara (ed), Witchcraft, (1969). Earlier version of Marion Gibson's collection of pamphlets.

*301.542.Sca: Scarre, Geoffrey, Witchcraft and Magic in 16th and 17th century Europe (Macmillan education, 1987). Recommended: succinct study giving the overall picture.

On Reginald Scot, Elizabethan Sceptic: http://uk.jstor.org/view/00096407/sp040200/04x7935e/0?currentResult=00096407%2bsp040200%2b04x7935e%2b0%2c00&searchUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fuk.jstor.org%2Fsearch%2FResults%3FQuery%3D%26hp%3D25%26so%3Dnull%26si%3D1%26mo%3Das%26All%3Dwitch%26Exact%3D%26One%3Dcraze%26None%3D%26ti%3Don%26ab%3Don%26ar%3Don%26sd%3D%26ed%3D%26jt%3D%26dc%3DHistory%26dc%3DLiterature

Sharpe, James, Instruments of Darkness: Witchcraft in Early Modern England (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996). Divided into background on topics like witchcraft in elite mentalities and popular culture, a thematic middle section including ‘Women and witchcraft’, and an analysis of the decline of belief in witchcraft.

West, Robert H, 'The Impatient Magic of Dr. Faustus', English Literary Renaissance, 4 (1974), pp. 218-240. Veteran author of The Invisible World: A Study of Pneumatology in Elizabethan Drama (1939) returns to the fray with a very useful corrective to accounts of the play that he sees as inadequately informed in demonology.

Willis, Deborah, Malevolent Nurture: Witch-Hunting and Maternal Power in Early Modern England (Cornell University Press, 1995)

EN3012 Witchcraft and Drama: Websites relating to Witchcraft

Searching the internet on ‘Witchcraft’ leads to scores of sites by practitioners of ‘Wicca’, eager to sell their wares and potions. Other sites often look like (and are) the hobbies of amateur historians. All too often interesting looking links do not work.

The ‘luminarium’ site is one that literature students should know: www.luminarium.org/renlit/renaissanceinfo.htmlhas a section on witchcraft.

Many famous and infamous texts have been posted on the web. Kramer and Sprenger’s ‘Hammer of the Witches’ has gone up at http://malleusmaleficarum.org – useful if you ever want to look at one of the most pernicious books ever to go into print (and avoid modern editions put out by peculiar editors like Montague Summers).

One hugely capacious site is at www.nd.edu/~dharley/witchcraft The texts posted here are cross-linked by everybody. There are also vast bibliographies, as this now seems to be the home of ‘The Witchcraft Bibliography Project’ – a multi-part bibliography, which can be downloaded in sections. Primary and secondary texts are listed together in each alphabetised section; it is all rather discouragingly vast, and only teaches you the titles (in the end).

http://members.tripod.com/~Epona_Seaborn/ offers a list of the witchcraft cases of the Medieval period in Britain – ending at 1570, just when it starts to get interesting. But does show the typical Medieval cases of politically conspiratorial dabbling in witchcraft (and, alternately, ‘witchcraft’ used as a political slur.)

At www.arts.ed.ac.uk/witches/index.html scholars are putting together a large database, 'The Survey of Scottish Witchcraft'.

The East Anglian witch-hunt of 1645-6 and Matthew Hopkins its chief instigator are profiled at http://www.channel4.com/history/microsites/H/history/heads/footnotes/footwitch.html

There are many other links at http://www.gwdg.de/~olacho/witchhunt.htm.

On witchcraft in films, see http://earlymodernweb.org.uk/film/witchtheme.htm

One of the rational heroes of the period, Weyer, gets an on-line article devoted to him at http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/journals/EH/EH36/slattery1.html

Note that we now have access to texts of all the witchcraft pamphlets on the EEBO site, to which you can link from the library resources (English) page.


The 'Osculum Satanis'