PBK Chapter to Host UCLA Historian for Talk on Witchcraft

CHESTERTOWN -Teofilo Ruiz, distinguished professor of history at UCLA, will visit Washington College Nov. 10 to meet with students and deliver a public lecture on witchcraft as part of the Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Program.

Ruiz will discuss how and why belief in witchcraft spread through Europe at the end of the Middle Ages. He will place witchcraft within the social, political, and economic contexts of the era and look at the methods the political and religious authorities used to eradicate women identified as witches. Nearly 100,000 people, mostly old women, were executed because of the widespread belief in witchcraft and Satanism.

A scholar who specializes in the social and popular culture of late medieval and early modern Spain, Ruiz joined the history department at UCLA in 1998 after teaching at Brooklyn College, the CUNY Graduate Center, the University of Michigan, and the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris). He was named a 250th Anniversary visiting Professor for Distinguished Teaching at Princeton and was recognized by CASE and the Carnegie Foundation in 1994 as one four U.S. Professors of the Year, and received the 2008 Distinguished Teaching Award at UCLA. He has earned fellowships from the NEH, the Mellon Foundation, the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and the Guggenheim Foundation.

A graduate of The City College of New York who holds a master’s degree from New York University and a Ph.D. from Princeton, Ruiz is a prolific writer.
Among his most recent books are “Crisis and Continuity: Land and Town in Late Medieval Castile; Spanish Society, 1400-1600;” “From Heaven to Earth: The Reordering of Castilian Society in the Late Middle Ages, 1150-1350;” “Medieval Europe and the World; The Terror of History” (forthcoming in 2011), and “A King Travels: Festive Traditions in Late Medieval and Early Modern Spain” (forthcoming in 2012). He is presently at work on a book on the history of the western Mediterranean.

Established in 1956 to enhance the intellectual life on American campuses, the Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Program each year sponsors a dozen or so distinguished scholars who visit colleges and universities with chapters of Phi Beta Kappa. The scholars spend two days on each campus, meeting informally with students and faculty members, taking part in classroom discussions, and delivering a public lecture.

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