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Demons in the Classroom. Academic Discourses and Practices concerning Witchcraft at the Protestant Universities of Rinteln and Halle

Dates:
  • Sat 15 Dec 2012 09.30 - 11.30
  Add to Calendar 2012-12-15 9:30 2012-12-15 11:30 Europe/Paris Demons in the Classroom. Academic Discourses and Practices concerning Witchcraft at the Protestant Universities of Rinteln and Halle

Early Modern Professors of Law in the Holy Roman Empire were more than mere teachers. In judicial matters they were called upon to judge and speak justice – especially in witch-trials. This study focuses on bridging discourses of demonology as they were elaborated and taught at Protestant universities in Northern Germany with the social and cultural sphere of the professors. By coupling an intellectual approach to theories of witchcraft, the role of the Devil and demons, with micro-historical investigations into the social and cultural practices of professors engaged in theorising and judging witchcraft, this study renders a more complex and nuanced contribution to the history of the university, its epistemic culture as well as its impact on its surroundings. This study traces the academic discourses of demonology from the high-times of orthodox belief and persecution to that of scepticism and reform. It does so by focusing on the demonological argumentation and the scientific methods employed by Hermann Goehausen (1593-1632), Heinrich Bode (1652-1720), and Christian Thomasius (1655-1728). What comes to the fore is a system of beliefs that accommodated the Devil, demons and witches in compatible and consistent ways with other intellectual dealings until academic practices, including the rendering of legal decisions in witch-trials and new methods of scientific enquiry (the purging of Scholastic Aristotelianism in the context of the Early German Enlightenment) necessitated a reconsideration of the theoretical principles underpinning the theological, philosophical and political aspects of demonology.

Seminar Room 2, Badia Fiesolana - BADIA DD/MM/YYYY
  Seminar Room 2, Badia Fiesolana - BADIA

Early Modern Professors of Law in the Holy Roman Empire were more than mere teachers. In judicial matters they were called upon to judge and speak justice – especially in witch-trials. This study focuses on bridging discourses of demonology as they were elaborated and taught at Protestant universities in Northern Germany with the social and cultural sphere of the professors. By coupling an intellectual approach to theories of witchcraft, the role of the Devil and demons, with micro-historical investigations into the social and cultural practices of professors engaged in theorising and judging witchcraft, this study renders a more complex and nuanced contribution to the history of the university, its epistemic culture as well as its impact on its surroundings. This study traces the academic discourses of demonology from the high-times of orthodox belief and persecution to that of scepticism and reform. It does so by focusing on the demonological argumentation and the scientific methods employed by Hermann Goehausen (1593-1632), Heinrich Bode (1652-1720), and Christian Thomasius (1655-1728). What comes to the fore is a system of beliefs that accommodated the Devil, demons and witches in compatible and consistent ways with other intellectual dealings until academic practices, including the rendering of legal decisions in witch-trials and new methods of scientific enquiry (the purging of Scholastic Aristotelianism in the context of the Early German Enlightenment) necessitated a reconsideration of the theoretical principles underpinning the theological, philosophical and political aspects of demonology.


Location:
Seminar Room 2, Badia Fiesolana - BADIA

Affiliation:
Department of History and Civilization

Type:
Thesis defence

Supervisor:
Martin van Gelderen (EUI - Department of History and Civilization)

Examiner:
Prof. Heinz-Gerhard Haupt
Prof. Hans Boedeker (Max-Planck-Institut für Geschichte)
Prof. Brian Cummings (University of Sussex)

Contact:
Monica Palao Calvo - Send a mail

Defendant:
Andreas Corcoran (EUI - Department of History and Civilization)
 

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