Reflections on the Terror of History: The Legacy of the Witch Hunt in Early Modern Europe
During Europe's most productive period in cultural production and scientific developments, close to 100,000 people (mostly elderly women) were either burned at the stake or hung by their necks because they were believed to be witches and in alliance with Satan to destroy Christian society. To talk about this historical terror, UCLA Prof. Teofilo Ruiz, author of the book, The Terror of History, will examine how some scholars, who were often at the vanguard of Renaissance achievements or propelled the Scientific Revolution, were also responsible for creating a discourse of persecution and fostering a belief in witches. How did that happen, and what is the legacy today of those witch hunts?
A scholar of the social and popular culture of late medieval and early modern Spain, Ruiz joined the UCLA history department in 1998, receiving the university's Distinguished Teaching Award in 2008 and selected the Faculty Research lecturer for 2011-2012. He has taught at Brooklyn College, the CUNY Graduate Center, the University of Michigan, the Ecole des hautes etudes en sciences sociales (Paris), and at Princeton, as the 250th Anniversary Visiting Professor for Distinguished Teaching. Ruiz received a National Humanities Medal for 2011 in 2012 from President Obama for his "inspired teaching and writing." He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2013. In 1994, Ruiz was selected as one of four U.S. Professors of the Year by CASE and the Carnegie Foundation. He is the recipient of numerous fellowships and written several books. His history of the western Mediterranean will appear this year.
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