The Supernatural in Early Modern England (HIH1553)

15 credits

Witches, ghosts, astrology, angels. These hardly seem like topics worthy of serious academic study. Why should a historian be interested in such things? What can strange and on occasions bizarre beliefs possibly tell us about the early modern world? This module answers these questions by exploring the meaning and significance of attitudes towards the supernatural in post-Reformation England. It begins by investigating the broad frameworks that gave supernatural belief coherence (assumptions about sacred times, seasons, and places; providentialism); before looking at and those with access to supernatural power (cunning folk; witches; astrologers), and classes of supernatural beings (angels, ghosts and fairies). Each theme will be examined in is proper historical context in order to develop participants’ understanding of religion, culture and society in early modern England.