Cover image for Witch-children : from Salem witch-hunts to modern courtrooms
Witch-children : from Salem witch-hunts to modern courtrooms
Sebald, Hans.
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Publication Information:
Amherst, N.Y. : Prometheus Books, 1995.
Physical Description:
258 pages : illustrations, map ; 24 cm
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Home Location
Central Library BF1576 .S43 1995 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Sebald (emeritus, sociology, Arizona State Univ.) focuses on children's fantasies of behavior--their own behavior or that of others--considered by their adult world to be especially reprehensible, and on the social processes by which these fantasies become evident and lead to dire consequences. In the early centuries of modern Western history, the relevant fantasies centered on witchcraft. Sebald reviews a number of the instances of outbreaks, of which that in Salem, Massachusetts, was only a late and small-scale one. He has special access, through his early upbringing in Germany, to records of some of the large-scale outbreaks. In particular, he draws upon, and presents in translation, the detailed "confession" of a nine-year-old male witch who formed a part of a German movement in which hundreds of children and adults were accusers or victims or both. Present-day "witch-hunts" destroy reputations rather than lives and are resolved in lay courts rather than in religious tribunals. But analysis of the accusations, what gives rise to them, and their consequences, shows close similarity between the earlier inquisitions and the recent revivals. Sebald uses both sociological principles and knowledge of child development effectively in pursuing this analysis. General; undergraduate; professional. I. L. Child; Yale University

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