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Usually the seminar enrolls between 10 and 18 students.In 2003, the first iteration, four papers--by Jackie Kelly, Mark Rice, Darya Mattes, and Jedediah Drolet--stood out as contributions to our understanding of the trials.An Introduction by Mary Beth Norton When I first became interested in Salem witchcraft, I started occasionally offering a senior-level (400) seminar on the topic of Witchcraft in Early Modern England and America, in part to take advantage of the resources offered by the Cornell witchcraft collection.
Accordingly, in 2003 I first taught a 200 (now 2000) level sophomore seminar--open to all, but aimed primarily at history majors or prospective majors--focusing sharply on 1692 rather than ranging more broadly, as had my previous seminars.
The course requirements include a final paper of 10-15 pages based on students' original research.
Parris objected to games because he thought that "playing was a sign of idleness, and idleness allowed the Devil to work his mischief." ( Reading books was a popular pastime during the winter.
Most popular, were Books about fortune telling and prophecy.
Thanks to Ben Ray of the University of Virginia, those papers appeared on the Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive web site, along with papers from his own undergraduate students.
I wrote about the course and the papers in an article in the online journal
Knopf, 2002; Vintage Books, 2003)--I initially thought I would have to stop teaching seminars on witchcraft, because I had created a narrative that satisfied my own curiosity about the events in Essex County in 1692.
But then I realized that my work had exposed many unanswered questions about Salem witchcraft and that I could direct undergraduates toward research topics that would in fact add to our knowledge of those iconic events.
1692 in Salem, Massachusetts was a time of fear, allegation, and deceit. Family feuds, eccentric personalities, and even keeping dolls in your home were reasons for accusations.
Fueled by religious fanatics and young girls screaming for attention, literally, no one was safe from the insanity of the witch-hunt.