The Forest Nymph, the Neck and the Devil. Erotic Nature Spirits and Demonic Sexuality in 17th and 18th Century Sweden

Project: Dissertation

Layman's description

In the research for my thesis I study conceptions of sexual contacts with nature spirits and demons in 17th and 18th century Sweden. From a modern point of view this subject may seem marginal, but it can provide very important insights into the worldviews of the past, and also into human thinking and acting in general, for example regarding sexuality, gender and ontological boundaries.

My investigation is focused on notions of the erotic nature spirits of folk mythology, such as forest nymphs, water spirits and fairies, and their connections with the Devil and the sexual demons of Christian demonology in 17th and 18th century Sweden. My primary sources are court records, works of theology and natural philosophy, folktales and ballads.

The study is conducted from the viewpoint of three main perspectives in three comprehensive analytical parts, which bring into focus popular and learned conceptions, sexual, moral and ontological boundaries, gender, body, exclusions and categories, and storytelling traditions and genres.

A comprehensive exploration of this specific subject has not been carried out before. Thus I believe that my research may yield new historical insights into early modern thinking and acting. Today the idea of sex with spirits and demons may seem strange and irrational. But exactly because of this, the historian can reach several important insights into early modern worldviews and their changes and continuities, through the study of such motifs. They reveal many important things about past conceptions of reality and their notions of gender, sexuality, marriage, ontology, exclusion, and how such notions were conceptualized in different cultural spheres. They also provide opportunities for comparison with, for example, contemporary conceptions of forbidden or stigmatized sexuality.
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date2006/09/012013/12/31

Participants