Emeritus Professor Philip Almond discusses his work on witchcraft and demonic possession in early modern England, including issues such as the "familiar cultural script" that was usually played out, the strategic interests of those making accusations, and the broader context of post-Reformation turmoil in which confessional claims to truth took on new urgency.

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About this episode

Although accounts of witchcraft and demonic possession can be found from virtually all cultures around the world, in the wake of the Reformation and the European wars of religion in the fifteenth century, accusations of witchcraft and instances of demonic possession reached fever pitch. This was particularly the case in early modern England.

Philip Almond discusses such phenomena not by providing any “slick” answers which explain them in simple sociological terms, but by looking at the “familiar cultural script” that played out in most instances of possession, and by keeping in mind the broader social context in which accusations of witchcraft were made (including the “strategic interests” of many accusers).

This interview is a distillation of Professor Almond’s recent publications on religious history in early modern England, and also includes discussion of his newly released work: The Devil: A New Biography.

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Taking Witchcraft and Possessions Seriously with Philip Almond

When the past has provided us as many truly excellent documents as early modern Europe has on witchcraft and possessions, what need have we to inject ourselves into their discussions? In this interview with Philip Almond, Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Queensland and Deputy Director of the Centre for the History of European Discourses, listeners are treated to a wide-ranging survey of the past decade of Almond’s work on witchcraft and demonic possession in early modern England.

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