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2+ Works 955 Membros 7 Críticas 1 Favorited

About the Author

Image credit: University of Michigan

Obras por Carol F. Karlsen

Associated Works

Women's America: Refocusing the Past (1982) — Contribuidor, algumas edições335 exemplares


Conhecimento Comum




I almost didn't get past the first fifty pages of this book, but I'm so glad I persevered.

The editors made the choice to retain most of Esther's nonstandard and archaic spellings, which makes for choppy reading at times. But once you get accustomed to her style and the topics she writes Sarah Prince about (commentary on mutual friends and presbytery business sprinkled in with spiritual reflections, updates on the family, and fears about the French and Indian War being waged at no great distance away), it's quite enjoyable and interesting reading. It's sweet to see how "Burrissa" and "Fidelia" cared for and exhorted one another, and there are hints of their inside jokes. The appended letters she wrote following her husband's death, as well as the letter she would have never read from Sarah Edwards regarding Jonathan's death, and Sarah Prince's closing eulogy, are all very affecting.

I'd really be interested in working on an updated language edition of this for a popular audience, but I'm not sure where to start.
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LudieGrace | Aug 10, 2020 |
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 believed. She brings new insight into the struggle between gender and power in colonial America.

Anyone who is studying the witchcraft trials during this time, or just want to learn more about it (without all the drama) shoudl definitely pick up this book. It was written in 1987 but is still relevant and worth the read.
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Angelic55blonde | 5 outras críticas | Apr 4, 2012 |
Carol Karlsen's 1987 book The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England provides a sort of demographic, sociological, and anthropological examination of the witchcraft trends in early New England. By examining the records, Karlsen has created what she suggests was the archetypal 'witch' based on income, age, marital status, &c.

She argues in part that women who had inherited or stood to inherit fairly large amounts of property or land were at particular risk, as they "stood in the way of the orderly transmission of property from one generation of males to the next" (p. 116). These women (and others), Karlsen suggests, were targeted largely because they refused to accept "their place" in colonial society. How their actions translated into being accused of witchcraft by - usually - other females is left unexamined for the most part, unfortunately.

This is a fairly useful study into some of the various elements of the witchcraft cases. I don't find Karlsen's arguments as compelling as those made more recently by Mary Beth Norton, for example, but this is hardly a bad book just for that reason. Recommended for those interested in the witchcraft phenonmenon.

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1 vote
JBD1 | 5 outras críticas | Mar 13, 2007 |


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