Faculty Mentor

Phillip Guerty

Proposal Type

Oral Presentation

Start Date

2-11-2019 2:10 PM

End Date

2-11-2019 3:10 PM

Location

Nesbitt 3212

Abstract

When studying the supernatural in British history, the focus tends to be guided toward what and why the people in a society believed. This is for good reason, as understanding both what and why people believed in the supernatural is done in an attempt to understand the historical perspective of that given period. One concept that is narrowly discussed, however, is using British law to guide this discovery. As is in many cases, law is oftentimes a reflection of a societies norms and desires, and the courts are meant to uphold these beliefs. The supernatural is no different, yet this is commonly looked over and forgotten. Much of this is due to the fact that law is seen as only “dealing with things essentially tangible” as Alfred Fellows put it, and thus having little interest with the Supernatural. My textual analysis, however, shows that the evolution of legal jurisprudence regarding the supernatural can be used to reflect ever-shifting ideologies of the citizenry of Britain. From hardships and the reformation to the industrial revolution, legal decisions continued to represent not only the what of supernatural history, but the why. The goal of this analysis is two-fold. Firstly, to show the intricate, and frankly fascinating, relation of law and supernatural belief. Secondly, the uses of studying history from a legal perspective. Though this research was difficult due to their being little work done in this regard before, it is an incredibly rewarding practice that I believe historians could benefit from.

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Nov 2nd, 2:10 PM Nov 2nd, 3:10 PM

Law and the Supernatural: A Transition of Modernity in Britain, 1650-1850

Nesbitt 3212

When studying the supernatural in British history, the focus tends to be guided toward what and why the people in a society believed. This is for good reason, as understanding both what and why people believed in the supernatural is done in an attempt to understand the historical perspective of that given period. One concept that is narrowly discussed, however, is using British law to guide this discovery. As is in many cases, law is oftentimes a reflection of a societies norms and desires, and the courts are meant to uphold these beliefs. The supernatural is no different, yet this is commonly looked over and forgotten. Much of this is due to the fact that law is seen as only “dealing with things essentially tangible” as Alfred Fellows put it, and thus having little interest with the Supernatural. My textual analysis, however, shows that the evolution of legal jurisprudence regarding the supernatural can be used to reflect ever-shifting ideologies of the citizenry of Britain. From hardships and the reformation to the industrial revolution, legal decisions continued to represent not only the what of supernatural history, but the why. The goal of this analysis is two-fold. Firstly, to show the intricate, and frankly fascinating, relation of law and supernatural belief. Secondly, the uses of studying history from a legal perspective. Though this research was difficult due to their being little work done in this regard before, it is an incredibly rewarding practice that I believe historians could benefit from.