Was the Salem Witchcraft Hysteria a Product of Women’s Search for Power?
You are asked to read some background information on the Salam Witch Trials along with the viewpoints of two historians.
In the YES and NO selections, Lyle Koehler and Laurie Winn Carlson offer two varying interpretations that seek to explain the events in Salem over three hundred years ago.
For Lyle Koehler, gender is the key factor. Koehler points out that not only were three-fourths of the persons accused of witchcraft in Salem females but also, of the 56 men accused, half were related to accused women. In addition, most of the accused women in some way openly flouted the ideal role established for women in Puritan society. According to Koehler, the accusers were seeking to overcome their own feelings of personal powerlessness by speaking out in the patriarchal world in which they lived. Moreover, these women relished the sense of power they received from court officials’ attention to their allegations designed to conquer the supernatural forces around them. Laurie Winn
Carlson, on the other hand, insists that previous explanations for the events in Salem fail to take into account the physical and neurological symptoms exhibited by many of the residents of the town. Those symptoms, she argues, correspond very closely to behaviors described during the pandemic of encephalitis lethargica that struck the United States in the early twentieth century and provide a reasonable explanation for many of the unanswered questions about the events in Salem.
Write a response that evaluates a group discussion.
In this assignment, you will have a discussion with at least two peers. This discussion will be based on your evaluation of the historians’ arguments, in which you can share your opinion about which historian presents a stronger argument. You will then write an evaluation reflecting on your experiences with planning, speaking, and listening.