Campus Units


Document Type

Book Review

Publication Version

Published Version

Publication Date


Journal or Book Title

Nova Religio



First Page


Last Page



The history of witehcraft is booming. Brian Levack introduces this volume by noting the furious pace at which publications appear. The field is also well-se^ed by a sub-torrent of syntheses, reference works, and guides. This is partly because of the field’s dynamic development, and also because publishers know that books with the word “witchcraft” in their titles will sell. How, then, can a new volume aiming to survey the histoi^ of witchcraft distinguish itself? ft might stretch the traditional boundaries of its topic, addressing no^ust maleficent witchcraft per se but also elite ritual conjurations, popular healing practices, divination, or other aspects of the broader magical culture of early modern Europe in which the beliefs and practices associated with witchcraft were embed- ded. While some essays here gesture in that direction, however, this volume remains resolutely focused on witchcraft and above all the witch trials that have long been the main focus of historians working in this area. Another approach might be to stretch the chronology or geography under consideration, but as its title indicates, this volume concentrates on early modern Europe, along with two essays addressing Europe’s American colonies. The third option, in some ways the most daring, is simply to provide outstanding coverage of the core areas of witchcraft studies, geographically, chronologically, and thematically. This volume takes that third approach, and it succeeds brilliantly.


This book review is published as Brian P. Levack, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe and Colonial America, reviewed in Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religion 18 (2014): 110-12. Posted with permission.

Copyright Owner

University of California Press



File Format