Review of Tony Fels’ Switching Sides: How a Generation of Historians Lost Sympathy for the Victims of the Salem Witch Hunt. (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Press, 2018)

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationBook/Film/Article review

Abstract

Throughout Switching Sides Fels liberally accuses the scholars whose work he analyzes of implicit biases, but seems remarkably unaware of his own. Over the course of the book he reveals tendencies to favor especially the men accused, particularly John Proctor, and passionately defend elites, such as government officials, against implications of incompetence, corruption, or malicious intent. He also has a soft spot for Rebecca Nurse, as an illustrative example of the socially vulnerable victim. These personal sympathies suggest that his introduction to the history of Salem through the affective narrative reflected in The Crucible may be continuing to influence his response to subsequent scholarship that involves different perspectives.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationReading Religion: A Publication of the American Academy of Religion
StatePublished - Jan 31 2019

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