Jacqueline A. Schlegel


Jacqueline Schlegel had an upper-division class with Professor Lewis and discovered that they had many interests in common. Together, they created a project that catered to Jacqueline’s love for the literature and culture of New England, where she lived until the age of 18. She feels that the resulting research allowed her to bring a little bit of New England to California. Ultimately, Jacqueline hopes to pursue a career in teaching, either at the high school or college level.triangle.gif (504 bytes)




In 1692 Puritan New England experienced one of the most notorious events in early American history—the Salem witch trials. The trials that began in Salem Village hanged nineteen victims, pressed one man to death and imprisoned many more. The problem is that historians tend to evaluate the trials in terms of the literature that came after, which constructs the Puritans as hysterical and the trials as propelled by social grudges. In contrast to what we may call the post-extraordinary perspective, my research looks at the pre-extraordinary, specifically the Puritan movement toward a secular society and its shift toward a court system. In a Puritan worldview God was the ultimate judge, which is seen in Michael Wigglesworth’s 1662 poem The Day of Doom. This is in contrast to post-extraordinary literature, such as Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, which emphasizes the role of human judges. When the accusations of witchcraft persisted, and religion proved insufficient to settle these accusations, Salem turned to trials and eventually execution as a kind of counter attack to prevent the spreading of sin. However, the intention to stop the spreading of sin led to its perpetuation. By executing the accused, Salem committed a sin—murder.triangle.gif (504 bytes)

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Faculty Mentor                                                                                                                

Jayne Elizabeth Lewis

School of Humanities

The Salem witch trials of 1692 are one of the most mythologized, and least understood, events in American history. Bringing the tools of historical research and literary analysis to bear on the trials, Jacqueline Schlegel peels away the myths and misconceptions. Her legal and theological perspective eschews scandal and sensation while also offering an important corrective to primarily sociological interpretations of the trials. Attuned to historical irony and written with clarity and assurance, the paper develops a complex and original argument steeped in careful, independent research. Throughout the course of her project the author was able to complicate her argument and hone her topic. The responses of peers and faculty made the paper the best that it could be, demonstrating its author’s ability to contribute meaningfully to a larger scholarly dialogue.triangle.gif (504 bytes)

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