Witchcraft and the book trade in early modern England

Davies, Simon Francis (2013) Witchcraft and the book trade in early modern England. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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This thesis presents a study of the production and reception of English writing on witchcraft from the period 1560-1660 using the methodologies of the history of the book and the history of reading. The body of works under consideration includes scholarly treatises, news pamphlets, drama and ballads. The origins, literary contexts, production, dissemination and reception of these works are considered across the period. Analysis of reception involves consideration of contemporary library holdings, citations in print, binding and contemporary annotations; this section is based on study of the holdings of a number of research libraries in England and North America. The study supports the conclusions of recent research into scholarly writing on witchcraft, which has suggested that such writing was more thoroughly embedded in its intellectual context than has previously been appreciated; this study provides more evidence for this view and expands it to include the other genres of witchcraft writing under consideration. The study concludes that the concept ‘witchcraft writing’ is not a useful one for our understanding of this material. Conclusions are also offered about the relative impact of individual works, and about the impact of this body of writing as a whole. While general works stand out (the treatises of Reginald Scot, William Perkins and James I, as well as many Continental treatises), the overall impression is that writing on witchcraft was not successful commercially. This supports the conclusion that witchcraft writing was not as representative of early modern belief more generally as has been previously thought.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Arts and Humanities > English
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature > PR2199 English renaissance (1500-1640)
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z0004 Books. Writing. Paleography
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 31 May 2013 15:16
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2022 15:50
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/44415

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