#grabsixbooks for end of semester

Suggested by Esther. These are the six books closest to me, as I’m grading. Eight of the ten books I taught (with) during spring 2020.

The Richard Armitage connection should be obvious, but if not:

Richard Armitage’s entry into the scene as John Proctor in Act One of The Crucible, June 2014. Photo by Geraint Lewis.

Proctor doesn’t feature much in any of these books. Although, as I was reminded when we read Salem Possessed (not pictured), he did live along the Ipswich Road.

Back to grading.

~ by Servetus on May 18, 2020.

6 Responses to “#grabsixbooks for end of semester”

  1. Thanks for playing!
    The Devil in the Shape of a Woman intrigues me.
    Good luck with the grading.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was the first book that made a sustained, detailed statistical argument examining why women were the target of the majority of witchcraft accusations in New England. This was important at the time because often charges of historical discrimination were made anecdotally and were thus politicized; or people would argue that Puritanism was misogynist (a complex question and this was a POV that religious scholars often refused to accept). Carlsen was the first to document these women’s family relationships, property holdings, and reception of inheritances to show that the typical target of an accusation is a woman nearing the end of fertility or just past it, widowed or in a second or third marriage, without original male heirs close to her — i.e., she ends up holding property herself but outside the local scheme of “acceptable” property holding. This “out of place” quality causes her neighbors to look upon her with suspicion, which is the first step toward witchcraft accusations. She then ties into that the whole question of what Puritans expected from women in terms of behavior. Her account has held up really well over more than two decades, and it was considered an important step in how to do feminist scholarship.

      I’d also recommend The Latehomecomer — memoir of a Hmong girl who flees Laos, arrives in a refugee camp in Thailand, and then immigrates to the US (Minneapolis). I assigned this because our local teachers will be teaching many Hmong students, but it is a really poignant story in our age of increased refugees / unwilling migrations.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Both really do sound good!

        Liked by 1 person

        • My fave of the Salem books was In the Devil’s Snare — connected accusations to the ongoing Indian wars in the region. But the students didn’t like it.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Why not?


            • It was the end of the semester and they were tired and that played a role, but I think the main issue was that it really pointed fingers aggressively at the judges — most of the people who are making decisions at the tribunals were also people who made important (bad) decisions in the then-recent war with the Abnaki. Because the Puritans believed that the Indians worshiped Satan, once a single victim confessed to “crimes” that met the legal definition of maleficium in New England (making a pact with the Devil), it offered a way out for the judges — they were no longer responsible for mistakes in making war — it was divine will and Satanic influence that led to their huge losses. The issue is that it’s something like three months in before that happens, so it’s an explanation that doesn’t relate especially well or directly to the beginning of the accusations. And in general my students were bothered by how much all of this research sidelined the initial phase of the outbreaks (the stuff covered in Act I of The Crucible). I don’t know if that’s because they’ve all read / seen The Crucible in school, or perhaps for some other reason (I could speculate).

              Liked by 1 person

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