School of Humanities

Women, religion and the body in early modern Europe

Further information


This project investigates how gender, religion and the body were interrelated in early modern Europe, with particular reference to the discourses of witchcraft and religious revival movements.

Magic affected male and female bodies and was committed by men and women during the early modern period. Yet the witchcraft records reveal in great detail how some forms of body magic, for example the wide-spread milk magic, were only attributed to women. We therefore need to ask how women and men differed in their uses of body magic, including the use of body fluids and body parts.

What meanings were ascribed to the social aspects of female and male bodies in magic? Was male magic and female magic mutually exclusive and was the use of body magic more common for one sex than the other?

And finally we need to ask whether these magical exchanges between bodies were transformed under the influence of the Enlightenment and the body borders redrawn during the eighteenth century.



  • Van Gent, J Magic, Body and the Self in Eighteenth-Century Europe, Leiden: Brill. 2008.


  • 2000 DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) Research Scholarship for the International Women’s University at Hanover, July–October 2000.