Preternature Volume 3:1 The Early Modern Witch (1450-1700)

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Preternature: Critical and Historical Studies in the Preternatural |
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Preternature Volume 3:1
The Early Modern Witch (1450-1700)

The publication of early witchcraft texts created witches by generating controversy about them. Witch-dramas, pamphlets, testimonies about witch-encounters, sermons, and accounts of trials published the anxieties, related the long standing suspicions, and sensationalised the physical manifestations that made women into witches. Sometimes accompanied by woodcuts, many texts insisted on the reality, materiality, and immediacy of witches and their familiars. In these writings, the early modern witch was represented as both a perpetrator of violence and the victim of it. The early modern witch is thus a fascinating enigma: a legal entity and a neighbourhood resource or nuisance, she purportedly engaged in natural and supernatural forms of wisdom with the potential to heal or harm others, or even herself. The words she spoke could become malefic by intent, if not by content. According to the sensationalist constructions of witchcraft, her body was contaminated by the magics she used: she fed familiars with blood, grew spare parts, could not weep, and would not sink. In accounts focused on bewitchment and possessions, the witch vomited pins or personified pollution and a culturally legitimate cunning-person such as a physician or minister or exorcist acted as curative. Despite the skepticism about witches that followed Reginald Scot’s assertions and the decline of legal examinations trials, the early modern witch is an enduring force in the cultural imagination. Witchcraft continues to be the focus of academic articles, scholarly volumes, digital resources, archaeological

This issue of Preternature, in association with the “Capturing Witches” conference, invites contributions from any discipline that highlight the cultural, literary, religious, or historical significance of the early English witch. Contributions should be roughly 8,000 - 12,000 words, including all documentation and critical apparatus, adhere to the journal style guide, and be formatted in the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition (style 1, employing endnotes). Contributions must be submitted through the Preternature CMS.

Queries about journal scope and submissions can be made to the Editor, Dr. Kirsten C. Uszkalo. Queries concerning books to be reviewed can be made to the Book Reviews Editor, Dr. Richard Raiswell. Queries concerning this special volume, The Early Modern Witch (1450-1700), can be sent to special volume editors, Professor Alison Findlay and Dr. Liz Oakley-Brown. Final submissions are due November 30, 2012.

Full journal style guides are available at Information on the early English witch can be found at the WEME project at Details on the “Capturing Witches” conference can be found at

Preternature is a subscription based bi-annual publication, published through the Pennsylvania State University Press, and available in print or electronically through JSTOR, Project Muse, and as a Kindle e-book.

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