Salem Possessed The Social Origins of Witchcraft The stark immediacy of what happened in has obscured the complex web of human passion which had been growing for than a generation before building toward the climactic witch trials Salem Possesse

  • Title: Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft
  • Author: Paul S. Boyer Stephen Nissenbaum
  • ISBN: 9780674785328
  • Page: 371
  • Format: Paperback
  • The stark immediacy of what happened in 1692 has obscured the complex web of human passion which had been growing for than a generation before building toward the climactic witch trials Salem Possessed explores the lives of the men and women who helped spin that web and who in the end found themselves entagled in it.

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      Posted by:Paul S. Boyer Stephen Nissenbaum
      Published :2020-05-16T15:14:44+00:00

    About "Paul S. Boyer Stephen Nissenbaum"

    1. Paul S. Boyer Stephen Nissenbaum

      Paul S Boyer is a U.S cultural and intellectual historian Ph.D Harvard University, 1966 and is Merle Curti Professor of History Emeritus and former director 1993 2001 of the Institute for Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin Madison He has held visiting professorships at UCLA, Northwestern University, and William Mary has received Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundation Fellowships and is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Society of American Historians, and the American Antiquarian Society Before coming to Wisconsin in 1980, he taught at the University of Massachusetts Amherst 1967 1980.enpedia wiki Paul_S._

    935 thoughts on “Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft”

    1. This actually isn't an unread book, since I read it when I was in eleventh grade. But that was over fifteen years ago, and all I remembered about it was getting badly confused by the economic and geographic analysis of the pro- and anti-Parris factions. A reaction which was, by the way, confirmed by this reading. Boyer and Nissenbaum have an excellent point, but they could have used another pass for clarity.In essence, the argument of Salem Possessed is that witchcraft isn't about witchcraft. Th [...]


    2. Salem PossessedBy Paul Boyer and Stephen NissenbaumReview by Emily FarrarThe year 1692 and the name of “Salem” have gone down in U.S. history as one of the biggest “witch hunts” ever seen in our history. But most people don’t know much else about Salem past the witch trials of 1692 which claimed 19 lives. The story fascinates them, makes them hungry for juicy details, but they don’t really care to learn about the deeper political controversy that lead to the events of 1692 and that p [...]


    3. What I enjoyed most about Salem Possessed was how the authors spent time explaining the different players living in Salem Village and offering profiles of several accused witches to demonstrate the similarities and differences in their circumstances. Likewise, the ample detail on Salem Village's struggle for independence from Salem Town provides another fascinating look into the context of the Witchcraft Trials.My only critique is that I felt the authors took too many narrative liberties in reco [...]


    4. This work is one of the essential social history readings for understanding the causes of the Salem witchcraft trials in 1692. Boyer and Nissenbaum critically analyze the events of 1692 by pace, status, church membership, wealth, and geography (double emphasis on geography) to find that Salem Town and Salem Village (modern-day Danvers) maintained internal factions on these measures which culminated into anti-Parris and pro-Parris groups (around Puritan minister Samuel Parris) with Salem Village [...]


    5. A fascinating read that's also stellar history. The authors found and examined a mass of "boring" everyday documents and used them to describe, in great detail, the social context of the town and the different factions within it. They're careful to point out that Salem wasn't actually that different from other towns in the same time and place, but the witch trials didn't happen at the same scale anywhere else -- meaning there must have been significant differences in Salem. They're able to ident [...]


    6. "Geography is destiny," my medieval studies prof always used to say, and that's no different here. Absolutely fascinating look into why Salem devolved into hysteria over witchcraft versus any other town. Hardly a mention of witches at all, but instead warring family clans, the battle of agrarian Puritanical collectivism against mercantile individualists, and a string of disinherited sons. The beginning is a bit of a slog, but it sets the stage for the later more gripping chapters.


    7. I had to read this book for my Anthropology class. It is a great historical compilation of diaries, town records, sermons, etc. that tries to adequately explain what happened in the 1692 Salem Witch Trials. A couple of points of view I found very interesting because I never considered those views. (I don't want to say any more because I don't want to spoil it in case you want to read it.) ;o)


    8. This is an EXCELLENT book. If you want to understand why the Salem witch trials happened, this is THE book to read. Short and concise, it makes a great use of maps, legal documents, and census records to create an overall picture of Salem's society. The authors' arguments show that Salem Town's increasing emphasis and reliance on commerce resulted in a changing culture that was more materialistic, consumption-oriented, and capitalistic. Increasing trade created a more socially mobile and secular [...]


    9. The book is not always a thrilling read; it was the 1970s, so Boyer and Nissenbaum, fashionable social historians, were enamored with statistics and psychology. The focus is on Salem Village's men, not so much the many women embroiled in the trials. Anyone who reads "Salem Possessed" will find their knowledge of the witch trials enriched, even if they do not find a story as thrilling (or female-centric) as Arthur Miller's "The Crucible." The accusations of witchcraft exacerbated interlocking ten [...]



    10. A well structured and researched insight into the social environment of the colony in the seventeenth century.




    11. A. Summary: This book is the study of a single event--the Salem Witchcraft trials in 1692. This is the first book to place this event into its social context--the history of Salem village. The main issue was the factional dispute between Salem town and village. Since there was no central government in Massachusetts at this time a resolution was impossible to legislate. The Salem villagers, feeling alienated by the commercial townsmen, were the central accusers of the “possessed” girls. This [...]


    12. Short, concise, and well argued, a must-read on the subject. I think the title should be more specific, the work explains the social context of this one witchcraft outbreak and doesn't mention any other parallels, so it is relevant really only to the Salem phenomenon. While you can extrapolate yourself to other witchcraft outbreaks, I was hoping for a sweeping thesis on "the social origins of witchcraft", which this book doesn't provide. Oh wellMaybe I'll have to write that one. Like other autho [...]


    13. In 1974, Boyer and Nissenbaum combined their efforts to publish a historical accounting about the Salem witch trials of 1692. In addition to the usual body of sources--legal depositions at trials, narrative and polemical publications--the two historians incorporated previously unexplored documents--community votes, tax assessments, lists of local officials (from church archives), as well as wills, deeds, estate inventories, lawsuit testimonies, and a manuscript volume of Reverend Samuel Parris' [...]


    14. Thoroughly researched and well presented, but still wholly disappointing in the failure to present the big picture or relay how this small picture fits into it. It's like seeing a square inch of a Monet - you get a taste for the chaos, but none of the point. The entire book is dedicated to the "social origins of witchcraft" yet not a word regarding the accusers or the accused unless it is to describe their socio-economic status in the community. This is a study in colonial economics and politics [...]


    15. I tried a few months ago to read the new Salem books--The Witches by Schiff--and I hated it; too much research recap and not enough analysis. A friend who is also a Salem fanatic suggested this book instead. I LOVED it. The book looks at how social structure, geography, and quest for power may have contributed to the events of 1692. Furthermore, the authors accomplish this task without outwardly demonizing any of the Puritan settlers. I have long suspected that the social structure of the Purita [...]


    16. All in all, an excellent read, though I take issue with B & N's use of tax records, the fairy-tail (wicked step-mother) projection motif that dominates the latter half of the book. psychoanalysis isn't easy to do, especially if it's only done by halves. In essence, I missed a more thorough effort to explore the psychological pressures that created this long-lasting catastrophe. I also disagree with N & B's decision to dismiss the girls and their psychological/political motives. To B & [...]


    17. This was a second reading for me. Boyer and Nissenbaum’s work is a landmark look at the factionalism—social, political, and religious—that engendered the witch hysteria in 1692 Salem. Despite what some scholars seem to believe, what can be said well in 100 words, cannot be better better said in 200, and I no longer have the patience for this kind of bloviated academic writing. Although B&N's interpretation is vital to understanding the subject, unless this is required reading, read els [...]


    18. This was a re-read, but I can't remember how long ago I read it. Historical record of the events of 1692 in Salem that teases out the tense situation that existed in the town, with pretty clearly marked out sides, that exploded into the famous witchcraft trials. Having re-read Entertaining Satan recently, the book about witchcraft trials in New England (apart from Salem) it really emphasized how much the whole idea of witchcraft was an accepted part of society, and how the phenomena was distorte [...]


    19. Boyer and Nissenbaum give an interesting insight of the social history in late 17th century Salem, and this book is and interesting read; but don't expect a bunch of witch tales if that is what you are looking for. The Authors give good sources for their theory of how the Salem Witch Trials occured, but I find it hard to believe that it was all over political factions. Though I did learn plenty from this book and do recommend this book for those who would like a deeper understanding of the histo [...]


    20. I had to read this for an Early American History class that I'm currently taking at Valeton. I really wanted to like this book, but I found it so completely dry that it was painful to get through. The book paints a picture of Salem as a period of social competition more than anything else. As a student of history, I suppose that's all well and good and researched and interesting, but as a writer I found myself struggling to lose myself in it. It's a story that SHOULD be much more interesting tha [...]


    21. I suspected that this was a gussied-up dissertation and I believe I was right in my suspicions. The premise of the book was interesting and to me it was new information: the witch trials in Salem Village were as bad as they were due to longstanding factionalism in the village that went back generations. Having made their case the authors went on to make it two or three times again accompanied by a lot of dull charts and illustrations. It's not necessary to finish the book, as is the case with so [...]


    22. This is a fantastic history of the Salem Witch Trials. Boyer and Nissenbaum are masterful historians, and weave a story that brings to light the underlying issues that led to that horrific event. It's fascinating to read about the social issues that preceded and surrounded the Trials, showing that it was not just a random anomaly, but the result of long-standing issues between the people of Salem Town and Salem Village. It might be a bit dry to people who are not interested in history, but for a [...]


    23. This book was intriguing in that the authors delved into the schisms of family and neighbors and clearly drew lines that later became the basis of the accusations of witchcraft. They posit an interesting theory as well: what if in the beginning, the possessed girls were merely acting out a religious awakening, what we might call today being 'full of the spirit' or 'speaking in tongues'? The maps drawing the lines of battle between the factions of Salem were also a nice touch.


    24. The title was rather misleading; while it is an excellent social history of Salem Village and Salem Town politics and economics the book doesn't delve too deeply into the religious or psychological origins of witchcraft. I found myself continually flipping to the back of the book to see how many pages were left.


    25. 2 stars, 3 stars, I struggled to decide. The first half was a fascinating analysis of Salem Village, yet the second half felt like grasping at straws. I also failed to understand why the women and girls who actually did the accusing were largely ignored. Seemed like a major piece of the puzzle to leave out, even if evidence left behind is most likely largely about the men of the village.


    26. This didn't disappoint, giving me an introduction into the Salem witch trials and socio-economic conditions that contributed to that era in history. Not sure I completely understood or agreed with all the ideas presented, but the book gave me plenty to think about and increased my interest in the topic. The author's research and documentation substantiate many of the key points.


    27. Excellent read on the socio-economic and psycho-social factors that came to a head with the infamous Salem witch trials. This book will be of primary interest to serious students of history and individuals seeking a deeper understanding of the events that led up to and followed the witch trials of 1692.


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