Emotional Styles of Belief and Early Modern English Witchcraft Pamphlets [c. 1560 – 1640]

Joyce, Oscar (2023) Emotional Styles of Belief and Early Modern English Witchcraft Pamphlets [c. 1560 – 1640]. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Historians agree that belief in witchcraft was widespread in early modern England and the present literature contains more insight than ever before into what people in the past believed. Yet beliefs had no reality outside of their expression. Their reality was within the minds of believers, and they were invested with the doxastic diversity that this implies. This work seeks to confront assumptions about the nature of belief, query how these assumptions have manifested in the historiography of witchcraft, and ask what is meant when people are described as having believed witchcraft? Through a problematisation of the concept of belief, an evaluation of the suitability of various interdisciplinary methods to address the issue, a survey of scholarship in the history of emotion, and the examination of early modern printed sources this work proposes a fresh approach to the history of belief in witchcraft centred on describing believing as a stylised process. It argues that there is more complexity in English witchcraft pamphlets than has been recognised and that these sources can inform an understanding of belief through a concentrated analysis of the interrelationship of emotions and belief in these sources. The thesis is not intended to overwrite scholarship that has explored beliefs as propositional statements and systematised them within matrices of thought. It does, however, suggest that much of the dynamism of believing is lost by only assuming such a perspective. Believing is a deeply contextual process and reassessing statements of belief in their original context allows for greater comprehension of how profoundly the style of their presentation was entangled with specific cultural notions of doubt, credulity, and emotionality.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of History
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 19 Mar 2024 13:55
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2024 13:55
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/94721


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