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Elite and Popular Cultures

| Discussion topics | Documents | Audio | Reading |

Discussion topics and Essay Questions

a) Popular and Elite Cultures
· Why have historians struggled to define 'popular culture'?
· Is the distinction between 'elite' and 'popular' meaningful?
· Did the spread of printing draw elite and popular culture closer together, or drive them further apart?

b) Witchcraft
· Were the European witch hunts primarily a war against women?
· Why did the legal pursuit of witches make less sense in 1720 than in 1500?

c) Animals
· Does history need animals?


**NOTE: Some eresources are accessible only on-campus or via off-campus proxies or the athens service**





Popular and Elite Culture

J. Deacon, ‘Dicks loyalty to his true love Nancy: or, A famous wedding’ (c.1671 and 1704)
English Broadside Ballad Archive and Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads



Jean Bodin, De la demonomanie des sorciers (1580) excerpts
George Gifford, A Dialogue concerning witches and witchcraftes (1593) excerpts
Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger, Malleus Maleficarum (1486)
Witch Persecutions at Bamberg
N. Wallington's notes on the persecution of witches in East Anglia (1645)

Popular and Elite Culture

Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525-69), The Peasant Dance (1568)
A theatre ticket
Pieter Bruegel, The Fight between Carnival and Lent
Coronation of James I


Albrecht Dürer, Young Hare (1502) and Rhinoceros (1517)


Hans Baldung Grien, 'Witches Sabbath' (1510 Woodcut)
Scottish witches (1591)
Illustration from Ulrich Molitor, De laniis et phitonicis mulieribus (c.1496-1500)
The Devil abducts the witch of Berkeley


Audio/Video Links:

  • BBC documentary 'The Pendle Witch Child' Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
  • BBC Radio 4 'In Our Time' programme on Witchcraft
  • BBC 'A History of the World in 100 Objects': Dürer's Rhinoceros
  • The Watersons, ‘Swarthfell Rocks’, modern rendering of The Fox chace: or, The huntsman’s harmony (cf. sub ‘Texts’) [Spotify]

Search for suitable versions of the following pieces on hhtp://

  • 'The Gelding of the Devil', composed by John Playford
  • 'New Oysters', composed by Thomas Ravenscroft

Secondary literature

a) Popular and Elite Culture

b) Witchcraft

c) Animals

  • Beaver, Dan, ‘The Great Deer Massacre: Animals, Honor, and Communication in Early Modern England’, Journal of British Studies British Studies 38, 2 (April, 1999), pp. 187-216
  • Darnton, Robert, 'The Great Cat Massacre' in his The Great Cat Massacre and Other Episodes in French Cultural History (1985)
  • 'Does History need Animals?', special issue of History and Theory (Dec. 2013)
  • Jenner, Mark, 'The Great Dog Massacre' in W. Naphy and P. Roberts (eds) Fear in Early Modern Society (Manchester, 1997)
  • Jorgensen, Dolly, ‘Running Amuck? Urban Swine Management in Late Medieval England’, Agricultural History (2013), pp. 429-451
  • Kalof, L., Looking at animals in human history (Reaktion, 2007), esp. chaps 4 and 5 on 'The Renaissance' and 'The Enlightenment' respectively
  • Lovegrove, Roger, Silent Fields: The long decline of a nation's wildlife (Oxford, 2008), pp. 26-61
  • Manning, Roger, Hunters and poachers : a cultural and social history of unlawful hunting in England, 1485-1640 (Oxford, 1993)
  • Raber, Karen, ‘How to Do Things with Animals: Thoughts on/with the Early Modern Cat’, in Ivo Kamps, Karen L. Raber, and Thomas Hallock (eds), Early Modern Ecostudies: From the Florentine Codex to Shakespeare (Basingstoke, 2008), pp. 93-114
  • Ritvo, Harriet, 'Animal Planet,' in: Environmental History 9:2 (2004)
  • Oldridge, Darren, Strange Histories (2004), esp. chaps 3 'They hang horses don't they?' and 6 'Werewolves and Flying Witches'
  • van Dam, Petra, ‘Rabbits Swimming Across Borders. Micro-Environmental Infrastructures and Macro-Environmental Change in Early Modern Holland’ in B. Scott (ed.), Economies and Ecologies in Medieval and Early Modern Europe (Leiden 2010), pp. 63-92