Becoming-Witch: Narrating witchcraft in early modern English news pamphlets
Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft
University of Pennsylvania Press (Penn Press)
Reason for embargo
This is the author accepted manuscript. It is currently under an indefinite embargo pending publication by the publisher
The texts that are the focus of this paper were published in the Elizabethan and Jacobean period in London, specifically in 1582 and 1612. They come from a tradition of publishing in print and for sale court documents from selected English witch trials. This use of word-for-word court evidence in printed pamphlets is quite rare: for example, it does not happen often in other felony cases (murder, incest or theft cases). It did not happen in neighbouring nations in quite the same way either, even those like Scotland which shared a number of assumptions about witchcraft, a language and, after 1603, legal and political structures. In these English cases it seems to be thought that witchcraft is a special crime (what, in other contexts, was referred to as crimen exceptum). In this context, witchcraft is special in that it seems to be thought particularly appropriate to provide verbatim evidence of this crime to a wider audience and readership outside the courtroom. In this construction of the crime, the words of the accusers and accused matter in a particular, exciting way that is emphasised as a marketing strategy in the titles and sub-headings of news pamphlets.
Awaiting citation and DOI