Spellbinding Timelines

Overview: Every semester that I teach Witches, Workers, and Wives, students are assigned a witchcraft group project.  Every group receives a witchcraft trial that they have to analyze to determine how gender, economics, politics, and other social structures might have influenced the initial witchcraft accusation along with the trial and sentence.  Part of the assignment involves creating a class timeline to chart the development of witchcraft cases over the seventeenth century.  Using TimelineJS and Google Sheets, the class charts their witchcraft trial onto a timeline they can then use as a study guide and class resource.

*Note: WordPress does not allow TimelineJS (or any iframe) to be embedded, so please follow the links to access the Timelines*

WWW Timeline Spring 2016 at The University of Texas at Austin:

WWW Timeline Spring 2017 at Utah State University:

The Rationale: The timeline component of the witchcraft group project addresses several issues.  First, it challenges students to summarize a witchcraft case that is often long, circuitous, and full of (sometimes contradictory) testimonies.  In requiring students to summarize their cases in brief paragraphs, it can help them present their findings to their classmates and perfect the skill of concise writing and summary.  Furthermore, by presenting this information on a timeline, it can help students to see how witchcraft cases were clustered during the seventeenth century.  This visualization can help them analyze why a witchcraft “craze” occurred during the last quarter of the seventeenth century and then seemed to cease by the eighteenth century.  Finally, the timeline acts a study guide of sorts for their final exam.  Part of the final exam requires students to analyze a witchcraft case they have never seen before and they must use specific examples from at least two other witchcraft cases.  The timeline, then, provides them an initial access point to conduct preliminary research.