Pub. Date:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England

Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England

by Carol F. Karlsen
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"A pioneer work in…the sexual structuring of society. This is not just another book about witchcraft." —Edmund S. Morgan, Yale University

Confessing to "familiarity with the devils," Mary Johnson, a servant, was executed by Connecticut officials in 1648. A wealthy Boston widow, Ann Hibbens was hanged in 1656 for casting spells on her neighbors. The case of Ann Cole, who was "taken with very strange Fits," fueled an outbreak of witchcraft accusations in Hartford a generation before the notorious events at Salem.

More than three hundred years later, the question "Why?" still haunts us. Why were these and other women likely witches—vulnerable to accusations of witchcraft and possession? Carol F. Karlsen reveals the social construction of witchcraft in seventeenth-century New England and illuminates the larger contours of gender relations in that society.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393317596
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 04/28/1998
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 184,604
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)
Lexile: 1570L (what's this?)

About the Author

Carol F. Karlsen is professor emerita of history at the University of Michigan.

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Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great book, heavily ladened in facts... but that is a good thing in a scholarly work such as this since is lends credence to her arguments. She argues that women accused of witchcraft tended to be older, married women who violated (in some way) the economic or social norms of colonial New England. If you are interested in the witchcraft trial in New England and have always wondered why the majority of accused witches were women, then this is the perfect book for you. I really enjoyed reading it and I think you will too!
Angelic55blonde on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this book while in graduate school as I was researching the whole witchcraft trials both in the colonies and abroad. I liked this book because Carol put a lot of research behind this. She did a careful analysis of the witch trials without sensationalizing it, which is easy to do with a topic such as this. Karlsen's main focus was on the motivations behind these allegations and found that it was really economic motivations as opposed to religious or social motivations as others have believed. She brings new insight into the struggle between gender and power in colonial America.Anyone who is studying the witchcraft trials during this time, or jsut want to learn more about it (without all the drama) shoudl definitely pick up this book. It was written in 1987 but is still relevant and worth the read.
AlexTheHunn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Karlsen investigates the demographic background of the women caught up in the witchcraft trials in Colonial New England. Her findings on the relative economic and other power indicators provide insight into possible motives for the hysteria, other than religious zeal.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you are looking for a book specifically on the facts of witches trials, get thisbook. otherwise, be wary. The book is so loaded with facts that you wonder if the author actually wrote this or if she just compiled data. A great book if you are writing a research paper, but not, if you are like me, a good choice for an extra credit book