978-0-8135-1675-2 / 9780813516752

Broken Spell


Publisher:Rutgers University Press



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About the book:

Offers a valuable synthesis of the exciting monographs on social history that have appeared during the last twenty years. [Spierenburg's] contribution is particularly welcome since he comes to his generalizations from a background of archival research rather than solely a theoretical framework."––Barbara Hanawalt, University of Minnesota

In this textbook, Pieter Spierenburg deals with the attitudes, emotions, sensibilities, ideas, customs and practices of people. He synthesizes the work that has been done in this field, looking at preindustrial Western Europe from the year 1000 until the beginning of the nineteenth century. He also compares developments in England, France, the Netherlands, and Germany, and orders them into an interpretive framework.†††
†††† Spierenburg highlights two central changes in preindustrial Europe: increased privatization as human activities shifted from the public arena to private spaces, and magical beliefs retreated as more impersonal views of the cosmos came to the fore.
†††† In his chapters on the family, Spierenburg looks at family formation, the increasing importance of the nuclear family, wedding rituals, marriage patterns, the influence of Christianity on notions of love and sex, increasing restrictions on sexuality, the growth of intimacy between spouses, and the treatment of children. In his chapters on popular culture,† Spierenburg writes about magical beliefs, popular customs, the campaign to "civilize" the peasantry, and the decline of community life.
†††† This is an informative and accessible book, integrating the work of leading scholars in the field while providing lively examples and discussions. It will interest scholars while working effectively as a college-level textbook on the topic.

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