About Will

I am a senior lecturer in modern history. My research focuses on folk culture in the nineteenth century, including cultures of body and place, and witchcraft. I am particularly interested in creative history writing.

My first book (2019) was about the Landes de Gascogne, the moorlands of southwestern France, which were dramatically transformed by a government forestation initiative in 1857. Drawing on the extensive ethnographic archive assembled by Félix Arnaudin (1844-1921) in the final years of the nineteenth and the start of the twentieth century, I explore who the inhabitants of the moors and forest were, and how they lived the changes to the landscape and their culture.

At the moment, most of my research is on cases of witchcraft in modern France (1789-1940). I have published one book about creative research methods and modern witchcraft (2022) and am working on another book charting the social and cultural history of sorcery in France.

What do these tragic dramas, which seem to be temporally displaced, hangovers from the early-modern period, tell historians about the lives of ordinary people at the time? Surprising things, I think, about medicine, technologies, mobility, and social change.

I have never had ebola.

Research Profile at the University of Bristol

@willpooley on Mastodon


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