Edinburgh Research Explorer

Spiritual Wrestling: The Making of Demonic Possession in Early Modern English Protestantism

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Original languageEnglish
PublisherBoydell Press
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020

Abstract

A work of primary research covering the period 1560 to 1640, giving a detailed account of all known cases of demonic possession, tracing the way each case developed from unexplained action to its diagnosis as possession, looking at the symptoms, explanations and engagement, including some 'fraudulent' cases (while demonstrating that fraudulence is a less clear cut category than assumed). This also brings attention to some of the religious politics involved with a very different emphasis, noting blind spots in the existing historiography. Then a step back is taken to draw wider lessons, partly on the ways in which supposed symptoms changed through time becoming more demanding and lasting longer, partly on the relations between contemporary 'religious' and 'medical' fields, partly on the ways in which the current historiography has been selective in ways that have damaged the analysis, not least in the demographics and religious affiliations of those possessed. This allows for an innovative reading, accepting the 'reality' of demonic possession in this culture, and finding a better fit for those who were possessed with a gendered understanding of distinctions between humans and 'beasts'.

    Research areas

  • demonic possession, religion, gender

ID: 133454749