Course Description

This course explores the development of the European witch figure from the ancient world until today. Although we will cover more than 2000 years of European history, our focus will be on the early modern period, unpacking ideas about witches and witchcraft in light of the great witch trials that occurred from 1450-1700. The trials themselves will only make up a small portion of our class, instead we will think about the characteristics that witches were imbued with, who was most likely to be categorized as a witch and why, and how such ideas have been translated into modern representations of witches and witchcraft. A key aspect of our course is investigating where such ideas came from and how they varied across Europe.

Course Format

As an intensive Spring semester course, it is imperative that you stay on top of class material. It is designed to mirror the number of hours normally put aside for a face to face class of this type (3 hours/day; 4 days/week). Preparing for class is not included in these hours, but I expect the reading will take anywhere from 1-2 hours. Completion of the reading is a requirement for all discussions.

Each day, there will either be a “live” lecture via video chat (all live lectures will be recorded) or a pre-recorded lecture posted to our course website. Students will also be responsible for participating in and leading daily chatroom discussions. Twice a week, I will host “live” discussion classes for those wishing to participate.


Dr. Dana Wessell Lightfoot

Header Image: Francisco Goya, “Witches’ Sabbath” (1821-1823).