ABSTRACT

This article considers how the recent digitization of witchcraft texts, which has provided unprecedented accessibility to archives and collections, offers scholars a unique perspective—unavailable though conventional interpretive approaches—to open new inroads into the spaces of early modern witchcraft, and enable new ways of reading and interpreting old witchcraft texts. It demonstrates how the Witches in Early Modern England project (WEME), led by Kirsten C. Uszkalo, designs and deploys strategically intersecting, innovative, and experimental digital tools to allow for robust searching and pattern finding within references from 290 texts, providing entries on approximately 150 years of English witchcraft published between 1550 and 1700. The article identifies some of the recurring patterns in the micro-histories of witchcraft in England as expressed in and discovered through WEME, and outlines the technologies that allow users to search a time line, map, search box, or filter in order to explore almost three thousand individual multidimensional nano-histories and align them, to create composites of the true and terrible stories of the early English witches. Moreover, the project's open-ended platform encourages further expansion by users, offering the opportunity to develop search tools that can enhance and inspire the academic interrogation of existing corpora.

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