Lambert, Erin

Supernatural Europe, 1500-1800

Witches, Werewolves, and the Walking Dead
Today, witchcraft and vampires are the stuff of hit movies and bestselling novels.  Five centuries ago, however, few Europeans questioned that magic was real.  This course reconstructs that enchanted world.  Throughout the semester, we will ask why early modern Europeans believed in the supernatural, and what caused these beliefs to change and ultimately recede over time.  For example, how did religious beliefs about demonic activity frame the occurrence of natural disasters?  What do spells and shape-shifting reveal about Europeans’ conceptions of the universe?  Each lecture will explore the ideas that undergirded a particular manifestation of the supernatural.  As we ask why Europeans hunted witches, for example, we will also examine their judicial systems and their views on women.  Through ghost stories, we will explore the ways in which people understood the relationship between the living and the dead.  Broadly, this course thus explores transformations in European society, religion, and ideas between 1500 and 1800. 
Most of our course readings will be primary sources: firsthand accounts of demonic possession, or the records of witchcraft trials, for example.  These will be the basis for discussion sections each week.  Written work will include short papers (in response to assigned prompts) and two exams (midterm and final). 
Course Instructor: 

Tutorial in the History of Reformation Europe


This tutorial explores the history and historiography of Christianity in Europe c. 1450-1650.  At the beginning of this period, the overwhelming majority of Europeans were bound together by a commonly-held Christian culture. In the sixteenth century, these bonds were shattered as Europeans debated what “Christianity” meant. By the seventeenth century, Europeans lived in a world divided by religion, and Christianity played a central role in Europeans’ interactions with others around the globe.  This tutorial surveys these transformations, incorporating recent work on subjects such as persecution and toleration, popular culture, and global missions.  It also provides an introduction to trends in the historiography of the Reformation, including the confessionalization thesis and recent calls for a post-confessional history.

Core Reading List:


  • Philip Benedict, Christ’s Churches Purely Reformed: A Social History of Calvinism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002).
  • Robert Bireley, The Refashioning of Catholicism, 1450-1700 (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1999).
  • Peter Blickle, Communal Reformation: The Quest for Salvation in Sixteenth-Century Germany, translated by Thomas Dunlap (Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1992).
  • William J. Bouwsma, John Calvin: A Sixteenth-Century Portrait (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988).
  • Caroline Walker Bynum, Wonderful Blood: Theology and Practice in Late Medieval Northern Germany and Beyond (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007).
  • Barbara B. Diefendorf, Beneath the Cross: Catholics and Huguenots in Sixteenth-Century Paris (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991).
  • C. Scott Dixon, ed., The German Reformation: The Essential Readings (Oxford: Blackwell, 1999).
  • Alastair Duke, Reformation and Revolt in the Low Countries (London: Hambledon and London, 2003).
  • Brad S. Gregory, Salvation at Stake: Christian Martyrdom in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999).
  • Benjamin J. Kaplan, Divided by Faith: Religious Conflict and the Practice of Toleration in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2007).
  • David M. Luebke, ed., The Counter-Reformation: The Essential Readings (Oxford: Blackwell, 1999).
  • Diarmaid MacCulloch, The Reformation (New York: Penguin, 2005).
  • Heiko A. Oberman, Luther: Man between God and the Devil. Trans. Eileen Alliser-Schwarzbart (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989).
  • John W. O’Malley, Trent and All That: Renaming Catholicism in the Early Modern Era (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005).
  • R.W. Scribner, For the Sake of Simple Folk: Popular Propaganda for the German Reformation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981).
  • Ethan H. Shagan, “Can Historians End the Reformation?” Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte 97 (2006): 298-306.
  • Lee Palmer Wandel, The Eucharist in the Reformation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006).
  • George Huston Williams, The Radical Reformation (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1962).
Course Instructor: 

Tutorial in the History of Early Modern Europe


This tutorial explores the history and historiography of Europe, c. 1450-1750. It provides a broad introduction to early modern society and culture, with particular emphasis on the transformations that reshaped Europe in this period, such as the emergence of the early modern state, the division of Christendom, and global exploration. Readings will be assigned in accordance with students’ prior preparation in the field and directed to their particular research and teaching interests.

Course Instructor: 

Tutorial in Visual and Aural History


This theoretical and methodological tutorial explores the incorporation of the visual and the aural into historical research.  Particular areas of emphasis include changing historical understandings of the senses; the advancement and critique of the concept of the “period eye/ear;” the analysis of images as historical sources; and the reconstruction of soundscapes and other aural phenomena.  Additional topics and readings will be designed according to students’ particular chronological, geographical, and methodological specializations.   

Core Reading List:


  • Michael Baxandall, Words for Pictures: Seven Papers on Renaissance Art and Criticism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003).
  • Teresa Brennan and Martin Jay, eds., Vision in Context: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on Sight, (New York: Routledge, 1996).
  • Peter Burke, Eyewitnessing: The Uses of Images as Historical Evidence (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001).
  • Veit Erlmann, ed., Hearing Cultures: Essays on Sound, Listening and Modernity (Oxford: Berg Publishers, 2004).
  • Jessica Evans and Stuart Hall, eds., Visual Culture: The Reader (London: Sage Publications, 1999; reprint, 2004).
  • David Freedberg, The Power of Images: Studies in the History and Theory of Response (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991).
  • Robert Jütte, A History of the Senses: From Antiquity to the Present Day (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2005).
  • Serge Gruzinski, Images at War: Mexico from Columbus to Blade Runner (1492-2019), trans. Heather MacLean (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001).
  • Mark M. Smith, ed., Hearing History: A Reader (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2004).
Course Instructor: 


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Corcoran Department of History
University of Virginia
Nau Hall - South Lawn
Charlottesville, VA 22904


(434) 924-7147
(434) 924-7891
M-F 8am to 4:30pm
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