Engaging with fiction and history-and reading both genres as texts permeated with early modern anxieties, desires, and apprehensions-this collection scrutinizes the historical intersection of early modern European superstitions and English stage literature. Contributors analyze the cultural mechanisms that shape, preserve, and transmit beliefs. They investigate where superstitions come from and how they are sustained and communicated within early modern European society. It has been proposed by scholars that once enacted on stage and thus brought into contact with the literary-dramatic perspective, belief systems that had been preserved and reinforced by historical-literary texts underwent a drastic change. By highlighting the connection between historical-literary and literary-dramatic culture, this volume tests and explores the theory that performance of superstitions opened the way to disbelief.
'This illuminating collection brings together chapters on literature and history to explore how superstition permeated early modern society. A lively new must-have for all those interested in witchcraft, demonology and magic.' Marion Gibson, University of Exeter, UK 'The quality of the scholarship here is high... ten fascinating essays, which between them offer reflections on a broad range of subjects (including, but not limited to, early modern religious debates and the Reformation; the language of rhetoric; gender relations; sexuality; political affairs; violence and crime; and mind and memory)... the book is a clear success.' Journal of the Northern Renaissance ’...the collection offers a wide variety of informative and suggestive approaches to the topics it treats. ... gives its readers a heightened understanding of why magic, and superstition in general, had such a hold on many early modern citizens, while simultaneously showing how sceptical others may have been about its efficacy as a route to power or as a means of holding back the terrors of the night.’ Early Theatre 'Staging the Superstitions of Early Modern Europe provides a deep well of ideas into which the reader may dip at will. ... a useful resource for institutional libraries and scholars of early modern superstitions ...' Appositions