Writing the History of Witchcraft: A Personal View
Issue: Vol 12 No. 2 (2010)
Subject Areas: Religious Studies
Over the past forty years, professional historians have taken an intense, and unprecedented, degree of interest in the early modern European witch trials, resulting in a huge amount of new publications. These have had a knock-on effect on the self-image of modern witches, based as that has traditionally been on an interpretation of early modern witchcraft which was firmly rejected by these new studies. This resulted in a period of re-evaluation, to which both academics and Pagans have contributed (sometimes being the same people). As a contributor to that process, I would like here to situate my own work within it, and suggest that important opportunities have been provided by changing scholarly attitudes, both for professional historians and for modern Paganism. I would also suggest that in some respects they have also been missed, by both groups. Some attempt will be made, in the light of this, both to suggest ways of pursuing further research and predicting directions in which further research is most likely to go.
Author: Ronald Hutton