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Meet the Author: Stacy Schiff, The Witches, Salem, 1692

at The Newberry - Near North Side

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Location:
Near North Side, Downtown/Loop
60 W Walton St
Btwn N Clark & N Dearborn Streets
Chicago, Illinois 60610
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Description
Class Level: All levels
Age Requirements: 18 and older
Average Class Size: 14
Teacher: Stacy Schiff

What you'll learn in this literature class:

Pulitzer Prize-winner Stacy Schiff, author of the #1 bestseller Cleopatra, turns her penetrating gaze and distinctive voice to a subject closer to home, as she takes on the greatest unsolved American mystery: the Salem witch trials. Schiff’s fresh and startling account, The Witches: Salem, 1692, is as psychologically riveting as the trials were themselves historically seminal.

It began in 1692, during an exceptionally cold Massachusetts winter, when a minister’s daughter began to scream and convulse. It ended less than a year later, after nineteen men and women—and two dogs—had been executed for witchcraft. The panic spread quickly, involving the most educated men and prominent politicians in the fledgling colony. Accusations flew—neighbors accused neighbors, children accused their parents, siblings each other. Vividly capturing the mood of seventeenth-century Massachusetts, Schiff paints an indelible portrait of a dark, unsettled time, when the colony braced itself daily against Indian attack and English oversight, when anxiety rippled everywhere just under the surface. She draws us effortlessly into a fascinating world, breathing new life into a long-misconstrued tale.

Aside from suffrage, the Salem witch trials represent the only moment when women played a central role in American history. Again, Schiff explores the troubling intersection between women and power. Her questions about the Salem settlers resonate deeply today: How do women express themselves when they are meant to be silent? How are their words interpreted or mangled? How does a society handle female self-expression and empowerment?

Drawing on years in the archives and hewing closely to extant papers and first-person accounts, Schiff examines the legal and social ramifications of the trials, the truth about witchcraft, the adolescent mind, and how in curious ways the events of 1692 shaped America’s future. She discovers stunning parallels between 1692 and our world today, between oral culture and an Internet one, noting the contagious nature of terror, bullying, and public shaming. The result is a gorgeously written, deeply nuanced, and powerful book that will stand as the definitive account of Salem.

After her talk, Schiff will sign books in the Newberry lobby. The Witchesis available for purchase in the Newberry Bookstore. Your purchase ofThe Witches will help to support the Newberry Library, and this program’s featured author.

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Refund Policy
Requests for refunds must be received in writing. To request a refund, email us at [email protected] The Seminars Office retains a 10% processing fee. For single- and two-session seminars, tuition (less the 10% processing fee) is refundable until one day before the seminar begins. For seminars meeting more than twice, tuition (less the 10% processing fee) is refundable until one day prior to the second class meeting; we cannot give a refund once the seminar has met a second time. Requests for refunds may be placed over the phone, but must be received in writing or via email before the class meets a second time.

After this the class has met (for the second time in a longer course) we pay our instructors and do not give any refunds. We do not offer letters of credit.

If the seminar fails to reach a minimum of seven registrations before the early registration deadline (one week before the first day of the term), the seminar will be canceled and all participants will be fully refunded. The instructor is required to teach the seminar if it reaches seven registrations prior to the early registration deadline. In some cases, a seminar may be offered with fewer than seven registrations at the option of the instructor.

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School: The Newberry

The Newberry

The Newberry is home to a world-class collection of books, manuscripts, maps, music, and other handmade and printed materials related to the history and culture of Western Europe and the Americas. The collections span many centuries and feature items such as illuminated medieval manuscripts, rare early...

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