Possession, witchcraft, and the suffocation of the mother : Edward Jorden's effects on women's spiritual agency in early modern England.




Clark, Meghan M., 1989-

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This thesis argues that Edward Jorden’s 1603 treatise A Briefe Discourse of a Disease Called the Suffocation of the Mother emphasized the physical weakness that resulted from women’s unstable reproductive systems and was crucial to the Protestant desacralization of women’s bodies and subsequent decrease of women’s spiritual agency. The first body chapter examines possession through four case studies that compare treatment of men’s and women’s bodies in Puritan possessions. The second chapter provides a close analysis of Jorden’s text in the context of women’s bodies. The third chapter analyzes witchcraft through a case study of the East Anglia trials of 1644-1645. The conclusion reiterates Jorden’s role in redefining the relationship between women’s bodies and spiritual agency in early modern England.