Date of Award
Master of Arts - History
For centuries, historians, authors, and amateur enthusiasts alike have been mesmerized by the Salem witch trials. Most of the literature focuses on the trials themselves and takes one of three approaches: anthropological; sociological; or conspiratorial. Recently Gretchen Adams, professor of history at Texas Tech University, approached the trials differently, focusing on memory. She narrowed on how the “specters of Salem” loomed over American cultural and public memory. Apart from Adams, little scholarly inquiry has focused on the aftermath of the trials, especially how it affected the people directly involved. This thesis will expand the historiography of the Salem witch hunt by examining the historical significance of the trials evolving memory. When examining the competing narratives that arose about the trials and the community’s attempts at reconciliation, a precedent is set by the Massachusetts government that not only stunted the community's ability to heal, but branded the entire town of Salem and its Puritan inhabitants as agents of fanaticism and injustice. As a result Salem has fallen prey to the crucible of history, once a city upon a hill, now an over the top destination for those who prefer fantasy to reality.
Umbrell, Heaven, "The Crucible of History:How Apology and Reconciliation Created Modern Conceptions of the Salem Witch Trials" (2019). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 316.
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