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Course Description

Although they occurred in 1692, the Salem witch trials have kept their hold on our country’s imagination; they continue to be debated by historians, theologians, physicians, sociologists, and readers. In "The Crucible" (1953), Arthur Miller uses the 17th-century New England setting but alters historical facts to create a play that found parallels in and responded to the Cold War hysteria fanned by Joseph McCarthy's accusations and congressional hearings. Maryse Conde’s first-person novel "I, Tituba: Black Witch of Salem" (1986) recounts from a different gender and cultural perspective the story of the Barbadian enslaved woman who figured prominently in the Salem trials but less so in "The Crucible." We will discuss how the writers artistically shaped historical materials and dealt with topics such as the idea of the “other" and the intersection of gender, race, and class. We also will consider other times in history when fear and self-interest prevailed over rationality and justice. | Facilitated discussion.
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