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By Kirsten C. Uszkalo (auth.)

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Extra info for Bewitched and Bedeviled: A Cognitive Approach to Embodiment in Early English Possession

Sample text

She is strangely entangled with Mother Frauncis, the woman who allegedly bewitched her. The closer Mother Frauncis comes, the more torment Harvey experiences. Harvey is “half out of her wits” when Frauncis is in the same room. This is in itself not unusual in such cases. ”68 The author is not invested in maintaining Harvey’s innocence, per se, but rather the reality of her possession. If she is bewitched, the rages she undoubtedly unleashed are not her own. She is not innocent, nor is she culpable.

120 Or physicians might promote themselves as experts: John Skinner, a man from Westram, Kent, and self-proclaimed “Student of Physick and Astrology,” published a vanity track, A Strange and Wonderful Relation n (ca. 121 These select examples illustrate the irrefutable stamp of the medical system on early modern bewitchment. However, it is on Richard Kirby, a student of physic and astrology, who published an account of Sarah Bower’s prolonged illness in Dreadful News from Wappingg (1693), that I will concentrate.

One can overempathize with others, causing emotional contagion or distress, as seen in Robert Brigges’ empathic reaction to the demoniac he visited. Affective performance was likewise necessary in the expression and validation of the possession, as seen in cases like Sarah Bower’s possession. Continuing in this direction, the chapter tracks the possession contaminations that spread through the Lancashire Seven, and the Throckmorton, Pacy, Muschamp, and Meredith families. This G R O U N D I N G R AG E P O S S E S S I O N 15 analysis, articulated through a social cognitive model, and developed with the particular features of demon possession in mind, posits that embodied possession in early modern England permeated bodily and social systems in very specific ways and propagated through proximity and performance.

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