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Pictured is Laura Stokes, Ph.D., assistant professor of history at Stanford University. | Photo submitted by Stokes
Laura Stokes, Ph.D.

Headlining the Fourth Annual Humanities and Human Sciences Symposium on Friday, April 19 is Laura Stokes, Ph.D., assistant professor of history at Stanford University.

Like previous years, the symposium will also feature the research work of Point Park's undergraduate students across a variety of majors including English/creative writing, psychology and global cultural studies.

The event will begin with a student poster session at noon, followed by lunch and a presentation by Stokes in the Lawrence Hall ballroom titled "Persecution, law, and the origins of modernity: A lecture on the history of witch hunting." After this, students will form panels and present their work to an audience made up of their classmates and professors.

"This symposium is a great opportunity for students to engage with their classmates and an outside scholar in their research and creative work. The students are really attentive and thoughtful respondents to each other's work, and I find it so inspiring to see them presenting in front of their peers and their professors," remarked Megan Ward, Ph.D., assistant professor of English.

According to Jehnie Reis, Ph.D., visiting assistant professor of history, this is the first year for the symposium to have a historian as the featured speaker.

"Laura's background and training in early modern European history will bring a fresh perspective to our students," said Reis. "She has worked in archives in Switzerland and Germany researching questions relating to witchcraft, persecution, torture and greed. These topics continue to interest students and scholars in a wide variety of academic fields."

Stokes completed her Ph.D. at the University of Virginia in 2006. Her first book, Demons of Urban Reform, examines the origins of witchcraft prosecution in 15th century Europe against the backdrop of a general rise in the prosecution of crime and other measures of social control. In the process she has investigated the relationship between witchcraft and sodomy persecutions as well as the interplay between the unregulated development of judicial torture and innovations within witchcraft prosecution.

Her current research is an examination of quotidian economic culture during the 15th through 17th centuries. This project, under the working title "A Social History of Greed in the Age of the Reformation," is based largely on the examination of court depositions from the city of Basel in Switzerland. Its first fruit will be a microhistory on The Murder of Uly Mörnach, currently in process.

Learn More

For more information on the Fourth Annual Humanities and Human Sciences Symposium, contact Megan Ward, Ph.D., assistant professor of English, at 412-392-8187 or

last year's web feature


More About: symposium, history, Department of Humanities and Human Sciences