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What's A Witch To Do?

Posted By:  Liz Goodrich
Date Posted:  9/30/2004

Deschutes Public Library is pleased to welcome Elizabeth Reis, Assitant Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Oregon for a program titled “Damned Women: What’s a Witch to Do in 1692” at the Sisters Public Library on Saturday, October 9 at 5:00 p.m. and at the Library Conference Room in Bend on Sunday, October 10 at 2:00 p.m. Both programs are free and open to the public and sponsored in part by UofO’s Center for the Sociological Study of Women. This program is free and open to the public.

Reis, who was born and raised in New Have, CT, major in history at Smith College and received her M.A. in history from Brown University. Reis attended graduate school at University of California, Berkeley. She teaches women’s studies and history at the University of Oregon. She is the author of Damned Women: Sinners and Witches in Puritan New England, and the editor of Spellbound: Women and Witchcraft in America.

During her program, Reis explores the options that women had during the witch trials of Salem, Massachusetts. According to Reis, denial of dealings with the devil was dangerous. “All the women who denied the charges were hanged. They could not successfully prove that they had not sinned in any way,” says Reis. “Confession was a more promising strategy to save one’s life.” But Reis goes on to explain that the courts of 1692 only believed certain confessions: those accompanied with sincere contrition and apology. “The punishment usually further enmeshed women in to the discourse of depravity their communities expected of them.” During the course of the trials, Reis states that of the 150 “witches” accused in Salem, 15 women and 5 men were hanged and one man was pressed to death.

For more information about this or other library programs, please call 312-1032 or visit www.dpls.lib.or.

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