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Gender, Mind and Body: Feminism and Psychoanalysis

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Abstract

Gender occupies a paradoxical place in the historiography of witchcraft. The persecution of witches is not about gender alone, but it has a continuing, knotty and intractable relation to gender that comes in and out of focus in the historiography of witchcraft; the fact that the vast majority of those accused of witchcraft in most European countries were women is at once the most and the least visible feature of the persecution of witches. Popular perceptions of witch hunting focus above all on the burning of women, often associated with specific hostile male groups — doctors jealous of midwives, clerics driven mad by celibacy, or religious authorities aiming to obliterate ancient femalecentred religions. In the field of academic research, however, gender has often been overlooked, or treated as a side issue. Until quite recently it attracted relatively little attention.

Keywords

  • Maternal Body
  • Early Modern Period
  • Emotional Dynamic
  • Psychoanalytic Concept
  • Patriarchal Norm

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. Elspeth Whitney, ‘The Witch “She”, the Historian “He”: Gender and the Historiography of the European Witch-Hunts’, Journal of Womens History 7 (1995) 77–101; Diane Purkiss, The Witch in History: Early Modern and Twentieth-Century Representations (London: Routledge, 1996), esp. chapter 3.

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  2. For example, Robin Briggs, ‘Many Reasons Why: Witchcraft and the Problem of Multiple Explanation’, in Jonathan Barry, Gareth Roberts and Marianne Hester (eds), Witchcraft in Early Modem Europe: Studies in Culture and Belief (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996); Stuart Clark (ed.), Languages of Witchcraft: Narrative, Ideology and Meaning in Early Modem Culture (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2001), introduction.

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  3. On this see Purkiss, Witch in History Katharine Hodgkin, ‘Historians and Witches’ (review essay), History Workshop Journal 45 (1998) 271–7.

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  4. Keith Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic: Studies in Popular Beliefs in Sixteenth and Seventeenth-Century England (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1971); Alan Macfarlane, Witchcraft in Tudor and Stuart England: A Regional and Comparative Study (London: Harper & Row, 1970).

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  5. Thomas, Religion, p. 679. Macfarlane similarly remarks: ‘There is no evidence that hostility between the sexes lay behind the prosecutions’; Witchcraft, p. 160.

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  6. William Monter, Witchcraft in France and Switzerland: The Borderlands During the Reformation (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1976); Monter, ‘The Pedestal and the Stake: Courtly Love and Witchcraft’, in Renate Bridenthal and Claudia Koonz (eds), Becoming Visible: Women in European History (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1977).

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  7. Mary Daly, Gyn/Ecology (Boston, Mass.: Beacon Press, 1978).

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  8. Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English, Witches, Midwives and Nurses: A History of Women Healers (Old Westbury: The Feminist Press, 1973). For further discussion see Purkiss, Witch in History.

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  9. Purkiss, Witch in History T. H. Luhrmann, Persuasions of the Witchs Craft: Ritual Magic in Contemporary England (Oxford: Blackwell, 1989); Ronald Hutton, The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999).

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  10. For example, David Harley, ‘Historians as Demonologists: The Myth of the MidwifeWitch’, Social History of Medicine 3 (1990) 1–26; Clive Holmes, ‘Women, Witnesses and Witches’, Past & Present 140 (1993) 45–78; J. A. Sharpe, ‘Witchcraft and Women in Seventeenth-Century England: Some Northern Evidence’, Continuity and Change 6 (1991) 179–99; Merry E. Wiesner, Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993).

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  11. Christina Lamer, Enemies of God: The Witch Hunt in Scotland (London: Chatto & Windus, 1981); Witchcraft and Religion: The Politics of Popular Belief (Oxford: Blackwell, 1984). The short section on women and witchcraft in this second volume had a considerable impact; at the time it was practically the only concise and scholarly discussion of the question of gender, and it was very widely circulated.

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  12. See Willem de Blecourt, ‘The Making of the Female Witch: Reflections on Witchcraft and Gender in the Early Modern Period’, Gender and History 12, 2 (2000) 287–309, for a critique of this distinction.

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  13. Carol F. Karlsen, The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England (New York and London: Norton, [1987] 1998).

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  17. This is a very large topic. For debates on history and psychoanalysis in this context, see Roper, Oedipus and the Devil, chapter 10, as well as Roper’s comments in her review essay ‘Witchcraft and Fantasy’, History Workshop Journal 45 (1998), and in the preface to her latest book, Witch Craze: Terror and Fantasy in Baroque Germany (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2004). For a criticism of historians’ use of psychoanalysis, see Garthine Walker, review essay, ‘Witchcraft and History’, Womens History Review 7, 3 (1998) 425–32.

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  18. John Demos, Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982).

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  20. Deborah Willis, MalevolentNurture: Witch-Huntingand Maternal Power in Early Modem England (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1995); Purkiss, Witch in History.

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  21. See Sigmund Freud, ‘Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality’ (1905), On Sexuality, Pelican Freud Library Vol. 7 (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1977); Melanie Klein, ‘Love, Guilt and Reparation’ (1937), in Klein, Love, Guilt and Reparation and Other Works 1921–1945 (London: Virago, 1988); Jacques Lacan, ‘The Mirror Stage as Formative of the Function of the I in Psychoanalytic Experience’ (1949), in Ecrits: A Selection, trans. Alan Sheridan (London: Tavistock, 1977).

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  22. On early modern women’s bodies in particular, see Natalie Zemon Davies, ‘Women in Top: Symbolic Sexual Inversion and Political Disorder in Early Modern Europe’, in her Society and Culture in Early Modem France (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1975); Laura Gowing, Common Bodies: Women, Touch and Power in Seventeenth-Century England (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2003). See also David Hillman and Carla Mazzio (eds), The Body in Parts: Fantasies of Corporeality in Early Modem Europe (New York and London: Routledge, 1997).

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  23. Stuart Clark, Thinking with Demons: The Idea of Witchcraft in Early Modem Europe (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997); Clark, ‘The “Gendering” of Witchcraft in French Demonology: Misogyny or Polarity?’, French History 5, 4 (1991) 426–37.

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  24. William Monter, ‘Toads and Eucharists: The Male Witches of Normandy, 1564–1660’, French Historical Studies 20, 4 (1997) 563–95; Malcolm Gaskill, ‘The Devil in the Shape of a Man: Witchcraft, Conflict and Belief in Jacobean England’, Historical Research 71 (1998) 142–71; Robert Walinski-Kiehl, ‘Males, “Masculine Honour” and Witch-Hunting in Seventeenth-Century Germany’, Men and Masculinities 6, 3 (2004) 254–71; Lara Apps and Andrew Gow, Male Witches in Early Modern Europe (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2003). See also Briggs, Witches and Neighbours, and James Sharpe, Instruments of Darkness: Witchcraft in England 1550–1750 (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1996).

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  25. Bengt Ankarloo, Stuart Clark and William Monter (eds), The Athlone History of Witchcraft and Magic in Europe: The Period of the Witch Trials (London: Athlone Press, 2002).

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  26. Robert Walinski-Kiehl, ‘The Devil’s Children: Child Witch-Trials in Early Modern Germany’, Continuity and Change 11, 2 (1996) 171–89.

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© 2007 Katharine Hodgkin

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Hodgkin, K. (2007). Gender, Mind and Body: Feminism and Psychoanalysis. In: Barry, J., Davies, O. (eds) Palgrave Advances in Witchcraft Historiography. Palgrave Advances. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230593480_11

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230593480_11

  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, London

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-4039-1176-6

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