PhD Studentship – Leverhulme funded project – The figure of the witch

Faculty of Arts

The project 

The University of Bristol, Department of Historical Studies is offering one funded project led by Professor Ronald Hutton, which is designed to position the early modern European witch trials more firmly in global, ancient and medieval perspectives, with particular attention to differing regional traditions of magic in Europe and the Near East. It seeks to steer a course between the recent British and American scholarly neglect of ethnographic parallels and ancient origins, and the tendency of some Continental scholars to address these issues directly but to do so within universalizing models, which flatten out chronological and regional differences. It aims, by so doing, to provide a better context for the early modern trials and their supporting ideological systems which establishes more clearly both the general factors and the local variants involved, and the relationship of both with older ideas.

It has six objectives:

-  To determine how far early modern European beliefs in witchcraft compare with those in other parts of the world, so that in the process a proper sense can be gained of what is unusual about Europe in this regard and what is not.

- To determine how far those beliefs were rooted in ancient traditions which produced differing images of the nature of a witch.

-  To determine the impact that the establishment of Christianity as the dominant European religious system made upon the image of the witch.

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-  To determine what attitudes to hostile magic existed in medieval Europe and how far these were reflected in actual prosecution.

-  To determine how medieval attitudes to witchcraft were reconstructed to produce the early modern stereotype of it, as a satanic conspiracy.

-  To determine how much divergent regional patterns, based on ancient and medieval tradition, affected the incidence and nature of the prosecution of witchcraft during the early modern period.

Candidate requirements An upper second-class degree and a taught Masters degree.

Funding Full tuition fees and an annual maintenance payment for three years. Due to eligibility requirements, this funding is only open to Home and EU fee status holders.

To be eligible for the funding, the student should have gained an undergraduate degree (usually an Honours degree, such as a BA, BMus, BSc, LLB or equivalent) from a recognised RO, or be an undergraduate expecting to graduate before 31 July in the year in which the studentship is being taken up. Other qualifications may be considered only exceptionally.

They must be studying at a Higher Education Institution (HEI) in the UK that is recognised and funded by one of the four UK higher education funding councils, or at an RO whose postgraduate courses are validated by a recognised HEI. A “recognised‟ HEI is one that is able to award its own degrees.

Please see for more information.

How to apply To apply please go to

Applicants should apply directly online stating the project title on their application.

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Applications should be submitted before 15 December 2013, to commence in January 2014.


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