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Natalie Grace

History, University of Nottingham

Thesis title:

Publications, Popular Opinion and Gender in the Context of Witchcraft in the Holy Roman Empire, 1480-1560

*Note: Due to COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on travel to conduct archival research, my thesis scope and focus has recently shifted slightly. My new thesis title is: Witchcraft in Print in Early Modern Germany and England *

Early modern Europe witnessed prosecutions for the crime of witchcraft on an unprecedented scale. The centre of these prosecutions was the German-speaking lands of the Holy Roman Empire: 25,000 people (primarily women) were executed as witches. In England, prosecutions were comparatively mild. Around 1000 people were tried, and less than 500 executed. Just as these witch-hunts have fascinated historians, so too did they grab the attention of contemporaries. In both Germany and England, witches appear in a variety of popular print, including broadside ballads, occasional news pamphlets, and sermons. Witchcraft research has traditionally neglected these sources, focusing instead on trial records and learned treatises about witchcraft called demonologies, of which the Malleus Maleficarum (printed 1486/7) is the most infamous example.  The neglect of occasional news pamphlets in particular has been attributed to their sensationalist nature. Recent work, most notably by Charlotte Rose-Millar in the English context and Abaigéal Warfield in the German context, has emphasised the importance of these sources.

Pamphlets, broadsides, and sermons present an intersection of textual and oral culture. Although only the written record survives, pamphlets and broadsides were often written in verse and given a tune to be sung aloud; some printed sermons were written down after they had been performed, and others were written to provide a guide for preachers. At a time when literacy rates were low, these sources offer an insight into ideas that may have reached a wider audience than learned written treatises. Previous studies of witchcraft pamphlets have explored how demonological ideas were presented in the pamphlets to explore how learned ideas were transmitted to a popular audience. This approach is a valuable one, but risks overlooking the ways that these pamphlets and broadsides fit into broader early modern print culture. My thesis seeks to locate these printed sources discussing witchcraft in their wider context. By doing so, I seek to offer insights into the position of witchcraft in early modern mentalities, and explore the techniques used to convey information in early modern news. 


Research Area

  • History

Conferences

2020

  • '"A Magazine of Scandall": Witchcraft in the Press in early modern England and Germany', 15th July 2020, University of Nottingham, History Postgraduate Work in Progress Seminars. 

  • 'Fake News: Facts and Falsehoods in the Osnabrück Hexenzeitungen (1588 - 1596)', 13th July 2020, Midlands4Cities Digital Research Festvial. 

  • 'Publications, Popular Opinion, and Gender in the Context of Witchcraft in the Holy Roman Empire 1480 – 1560', 9th January 2020, German Historical Institute London Postgraduate Conference.

2019

  • 'Approaching Archival Research Abroad: Workshop', 2nd December 2019, University of Nottingham, History Postgraduate Work in Progress Seminars.
  • '1520 – 1560: A Quiet Spell in the German Witch-Hunts? Poster Presentation', 21st May 2019, Midlands4Cities Research Festival, Birmingham. 


Public Engagement & Impact

  • M4C Digital Research Festival Co-organiser (May 2020 – July 2020)
  • History PGR Course Rep, University of Nottingham (October 2019 onwards)
  • Co-founder and Co-organiser of History Postgraduate Work in Progress Seminars, University of Nottingham (September 2019 onwards) 


Other Research Interests

  • Reformation and Counter-Reformation History
  • Gender
  • Popular Culture 


Memberships

German History Society (2018 – present) 

Training and Professional Development

Teaching

  • Small Group Teaching, December 2019, University of Nottingham Graduate School.
  • Preparing to Teach in Higher Education, October 2019, University of Nottingham Graduate School.
  • Lecturing for Learning, October 2019, University of Nottingham Graduate School.
  • Marking and Giving Feedback, October 2019, University of Nottingham Graduate School.

Research

  • German Script Course (Two-week residential), June 2019, Moravian Archives Bethlehem
  • Adobe InDesign Poster Workshop, May 2019, Midlands4Cities
  • German Palaeography Course, January 2019, German Historical Institute London
  • Beginners' Latin (Audited module), October 2018 - May 2019, Department of Classics and Archaeology, University of Nottingham 


Awards and Grants


2019

  • German History Society Small Research Grant (£981.06), September 2019.

Awarded to contribute to costs of archival research trip in Bavaria, Germany. This research trip was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

2017

  • W.R. Fryer Prize (£150), June 2017.

Awarded £150 for best final marks in BA History at University of Nottingham in academic year 2016-17.