The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England

Carol F. Karlsen


The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England

The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England

  • Title: The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England
  • Author: Carol F. Karlsen
  • ISBN: 9780393317596
  • Page: 266
  • Format: Paperback



Confessing to familiarity with the devils, Mary Johnson, a servant, was executed by Connecticut officials in 1648 A wealthy Boston widow, Ann Hibbens was hanged in 1656 for casting spells on her neighbors The case of Ann Cole, who was taken with very strange Fits, fueled an outbreak of witchcraft accusations in Hartford a generation before the notorious events at SalConfessing to familiarity with the devils, Mary Johnson, a servant, was executed by Connecticut officials in 1648 A wealthy Boston widow, Ann Hibbens was hanged in 1656 for casting spells on her neighbors The case of Ann Cole, who was taken with very strange Fits, fueled an outbreak of witchcraft accusations in Hartford a generation before the notorious events at Salem.More than three hundred years later, the question Why still haunts us Why were these and other women likely witches vulnerable to accusations of witchcraft and possession Carol F Karlsen reveals the social construction of witchcraft in seventeenth century New England and illuminates the larger contours of gender relations in that society.


Recent Comments "The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England"

Incredibly captivating. I read this as research for a novel I'm writing, but quickly fell under Carol Karlsen's narrative spell. Scholarly and well-researched -- and filled with beautifully drawn characters.

For a revised dissertation, this book is quite good. Karlsen doesn't focus only on Salem, either. This is a study of how women were demonized early in the history of the northeast colonies. There are some charts with statistics to make the point that women were overwhelmingly targeted as "witches" in a frenzy that we still have trouble comprehending today.This book shows how land disputes were often behind accusations of witchcraft. Land and property could simply be stolen from those accused and [...]

There are few things that are more entertaining than a good witch story. Karlsen does an excellent job of bringing to life the accounts of the women and a few men who lost their lives, after being targeted as witches.Karlsen wrote this book well over two decades ago, it is still very useful, and a compelling read. She uses scholarly material and charts instead of just using gorey details to keep your interest. Karlsen makes use of demographics, economic factors as well as societal norms to tell [...]

Really interesting and readable analysis of the witchcraft craze throughout New England in the mid-to-late 1600s, focusing on the age, marital status, and economic situations of the accused witches. The thrust of Karlsen's main argument is that New England witches were primarily women of middle age, whose husbands were deceased, had abandoned them, or were otherwise away or marginalized; who had no surviving sons and often no brothers, or were not on friendly terms with them; and who had lost an [...]

The Devil in the Shape of a Woman is both fascinating and frustrating. Its subject matter (witchcraft accusations in New England between about 1630 and 1692, which is the date of the Salem "outbreak") is compelling in that sort of oh god I can't look trainwreck fashion; I found it frustrating because Karlsen's theoretical models for how witchcraft accusations work socially and the cultural work they do are almost naively simplistic. And she has the problem I've noticed over and over again in boo [...]

The author finds a social, religious, or economic reason for most of the witchcraft accusations. Economic pressures were caused by the English inheritance laws which caused most men to have to wait for land to start their lives with until theirs fathers were dead. If a women happened to inherit and live alone, she became an object of scorn and accusations of witchcraft could to follow. The Puritan society also placed tremendous pressure on women to conform to a behavioral ideal of meekness and s [...]

Was not able to finish this book. Too many statistics and repeated information. The subject is interesting but I need it presented in a different format.

I guess for me I just already knew a lot of this stuff, so reading this was like reading over old class notes or something. I'm not going to rate this book because it was more on me for why I didn't like it.

The Devil in the Shape of a Women is an exploration of witchcraft in colonial New England, including the Salem Witch Trials and other witchcraft outbreaks in the 17th century. Carol F. Karlsen's approach is not to recount the histories as such as it is to look beyond the usual recounts and discover the societal attitudes and impulses behind these accusations — and why women were predominately the target of these accusations.Karlsen's writing is clear and her conclusions logically argued. I enj [...]

This was an incredible read. It really touched on a lot of the hidden truths about how women were treated in older Times, as well as the mindset that follows some men today. It showed how anyone could be labeled a witch over a minor land dispute, or a fight between neighbors. Anyone who likes witches, knows about Salem, or likes women’s history this is for them.

3.5 stars Very interesting. Good for when you EXTRA want to hate the patriarchy realizing things have basically been the same for women in this country for 400 years. Ends up being very repetitive and slightly dry, so kind of a slog to get through.

Oh, those inconvenient women! Even today, sad to say, independent women who speak their minds or are in positions of power are often viewed with suspicion. I found it quite interesting that many of the women had land and property in their own right through inheritance.

In the book, The Devil in the Shape of a Woman, Carol F. Karlsen discusses the role and position of women in Puritan society during the witchcraft trials of New England. Karlsen pulled together research from several different sources, most notably the Essex court records and various histories of the New England colonies. She uses first hand accounts of witch trials, Cotton Mather’s personal writings, and court records. These sources showed in detail court proceedings, testimonies, and judgment [...]

It was more an analysis rather than a history. I was hoping for a history. Interesting hypotheses, though.

This book is worth the read if you are curious about what made a "witch" a witch in Salem. And how and why the witch trials ended.

Perfekt.

More an analysis than a history. I was hoping for a history. Interesting ideas and correlations drawn, however.

Probably 2.5-2.75 stars. Really interesting information. Pretty dry reading though

The Devil in the Shape of A Woman by Carol F. Karlsen studies witchcraft in colonial New England. The thesis of the book is to examine the different factors contributing to the witchcraft hysteria for early settlers and why most witches were women. The principal factors of determining who would be accused of witchcraft were: sex, marital status, community standing, wealth, inheritance, and relationships with others in the community. Proving her thesis, Karlsen used court documents, journal entri [...]

The Devil in the Shape of A Woman sets out the actual religious components of Puritanism, but also the implicit sociological and economic contexts found within the New England communities affected. All too often, general opinion toward the New England witch trials has been weighted toward a one-sided interpretation of these events at the expense of other important factors of the time. However, this book provides a more balanced approach by exposing these undertones that in the past were typicall [...]

Carol F. Karlsen's presents her dissertation on the woman accused of witchcraft primarily during the 1600's in Colonial America. Her findings are well documented with over 70 pages of notes qualifying the information presented. While the information presented was interesting, I often found myself feeling lost as to the point that was trying to be made.What exactly was the profile of the typical woman accused of witchcraft? The first four chapters had me bouncing back and forth thinking the answe [...]

This book is pretty much like "Witches" but with more detail and different women. The book was taken primarily from the author's dissertation, and is well researched and written. The subject of witches is one that has mystified our New England culture almost from the beginning. The name of John Alden arises in this book as it did in "Witches". I am interested in him because he is the son of of my direct ancestors, John Alden and Priscilla Mullins who arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620 on [...]

Well this book is a classic for a reason. This is a close focus Art of History in the details work, a fine example of craft and scholarship. A deeply reasoned and deftly well tuned analysis born of excellent research gives us a clear window into one hell of a compelling and perplexing subject. Economic issues, class, and fraught gender roles tell a tale that remains required reading for anyone truly curious about one of America's most infamous events. The conflicts around money and inheritance, [...]

I'll be blunt and say this book was a little dull to read, but it was meant to be informative rather than entertaining, which it certainly was very much informative. The book breaks down different aspects and reasons for suspecting witches and the author was kind enough to even show charts to help visually illustrate her point. In the end, it doesn't necessarily tell you a definitive answer as to why these women were suspected witches, but it does explore very valid possibilities and in the end [...]

Despite the fact that it has been over 300 years since anyone was executed for witchcraft in this country, it is still the #2 crime for which women have received the death penalty. Murder is #1, of course, and (at least for now) the only crime for which criminals are executed. But in the early days of this country, women could be executed for arson, assault and even having a stillborn illegitimate child (the presumption was that the mother killed her child from shame). But even with all that, wi [...]

I read this book while in graduate school as I was researching the whole witchcraft trials both in the colonies and abroad. I liked this book because Carol put a lot of research behind this. She did a careful analysis of the witch trials without sensationalizing it, which is easy to do with a topic such as this. Karlsen's main focus was on the motivations behind these allegations and found that it was really economic motivations as opposed to religious or social motivations as others have believ [...]

Very good, but the language is often overly academic (it is was a history dissertation before it was re-worked into a book). I think it could have been edited a bit more heavily to bring it to a wider audience.Anyway, it looks at witchcraft trials - mostly from 1640-1700 in CT and MA - and analyzes the economic and family background of the witches (most were older women without husbands or brothers, who had inherited either money or land, and thus had a measure of independence most women didn't [...]

Despite the fact that it took me awhile to read it, I really enjoyed this piece of history. The footnotes take up a good 1/3 of the book, which is awesome. She uses solid primary sources and interesting secondary sources (I now have a list of books she used as references to read myself). Her argument is interesting and well laid out. She addresses the economic and social backgrounds behind the witch trials of colonial New England, something that gets skipped over when the time is discussed in po [...]

From Library JournalKarlsen has written an intriguing social history of witchcraft in Puritan New England (1620-1725). She unearths detailed evidence which demonstrates that prosecuted and accused witches generally were older, married women who had violated the religious and/or economic Puritan social hierarchy. Beyond their childbearing years and sometimes the recipients of inheritances, these women threatened the male-dominated social order and drew the ire of middle-aged men who accused them [...]

This is one of the better "collective biographies" of a historical phenomenon I've read. But it is about the phenomenon, and not a story of a particular event. Karlsen's book analyzes patterns from three witch panics as well as accusations of witchcraft in less hysteric times. This is about trends, not individual events, though there are plenty of stories about individual women. You can expect to see charts in this book, and the acknowledgement of patterns in witchcraft accusations, not mystical [...]


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    Published :2019-01-26T14:26:20+00:00