Early American Women’s Words: AML 3286
Study Guide for: The Salem Witch Hunt
Your reading this week is Richard Godbeer’s The Salem Witch Hunt. Although it is very short and Godbeer has modernized the spelling, most of this text consists of excerpts from primary sources. As such, you will want to read carefully and avoid procrastinating.
Before you begin reading, answer the following questions in your journal:
1. Based on your previous knowledge of the Salem witch trials, what do you believe motivated the accusers? Why do you think that people confessed to such crimes, and why were these accusations taken seriously in the first place?
Now read Godbeer’s The Salem Witch Hunt. Answer the following questions:
1. How did accusations by men differ from accusations by women?
2. How did accusations against men differ from accusations against women?
3. Did you notice any patterns in the accusations?
Go to National Geographic’s Salem Witchcraft Hysteria site and go through the witch trial role-playing exercise. Note your experiences and be prepared to discuss them.
Read pages 5-17 of Cotton Mather’s Wonders of the Invisible World. Answer the following questions:
1. To what extent would you say that Mather’s worldview relates to the concept of manifest destiny we discussed earlier in the semester?
2. Wonders of the Invisible World was largely a response to the Salem Witch Trials, but how would you say the Puritan mindset depicted in these pages influenced the trials?
Now read Elizabeth Reis’s "Revelation, Witchcraft, and the Dangers of Knowing God's Secrets" and answer the following questions:
1. How did Puritan views on women influence the Salem Witch Trials?
2. Would you call the accusers feminists? Why or why not? Be prepared to discuss this in class.
Look back on the answers you wrote to the pre-reading questions. Have your ideas changed as a result of the reading? Note those changes and be prepared to discuss them in class.
Godbeer, Richard. The Salem Witch Hunt: A Brief History with Documents. Ed. Richard Godbeer Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2011.
Mather, Cotton. Wonders of the Invisible World. Boston: John Dunton, 1693. The Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive and Transcription Project. University of Virginia. 2003. http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/speccol/cmather/table/index.html accessed 29 Nov. 2011
National Geographic Society. “The Salem Witchcraft Hysteria.” National Geographic.com. 1996-2005. http://www.nationalgeographic.com/salem/ accessed 29 Nove 2011.
Reis, Elizabeth. “Revelation, Witchcraft and the Danger of Knowing God’s Secrets.” Women in Religion in America: Reimagining the Past. Chicago Divinity School. October 8-10, 1993. PDF. http://divinity.uchicago.edu/martycenter/conferences/womenandreligion/private/reis_elizabeth.pdf