In 1916, one of the better-known fortune-tellers and magicians of Paris was sent to prison for fraud. The newspapers were peppered with details: his pseudonyms, some of his more bizarre practices, hints at his clientele. Journalists – much like their descendants today – took great pleasure in mocking the credulity of modern Paris, and revelled […]

Read more "Gistory"

Out With the Old?

I don’t often write about British current affairs directly here. I am, after all, a historian whose interests lie in nineteenth-century France. But something about the Jeremy Corbyn maelstrom has been bugging me. (Corbyn, in case you don’t follow British politics, is the recently elected leader of the Labour Party, who have been the main […]

Read more "Out With the Old?"

‘A Most Certain, Strange, and true Discovery’: Witches in Modern France

Some of our enduring assumptions about the history of witchcraft in Europe after the ‘witch craze’ need busting. I’m hardly the first to notice this. In fact, several historians have written about how pervasive and inaccurate it is to think that secularization created the scepticism that made Europeans – and especially elites – realize that […]

Read more "‘A Most Certain, Strange, and true Discovery’: Witches in Modern France"

The Here and Now

(This is the fifth and final post I have written about the Modern British Studies Conference in Birmingham in July. For an overview of the posts, see here: This post deals with what may well be the most important aspect the challenging and exciting discussions at MBS2015, but it i most likely the one where I […]

Read more "The Here and Now"