Spotlight on Abaigéal Warfield
January 24, 2014 1 Comment
The eldest of four siblings, Abaigéal grew up near Dublin in Ireland. She has always had an interest in history, nurtured by her grandfather, who she believes must have taken her to almost every remaining round tower or monastic ruin in Ireland during her summer holidays as a child. Following secondary school Abaigéal attended the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, studying History, English and Anthropology.
During her final year as an undergraduate her fascination with early modern print media began after being assigned Bob Scribner’s book For the Sake of Simple Folk for an oral book review. It was at this point that Abaigéal decided that she wanted to work with early modern print media, specifically the genre of Neue Zeitungen, which are short pamphlets (Flugschriften) and broadsides (Flugblättern) that reported news of interesting contemporary events.
Her PhD, which she carried out at the NUI Maynooth, investigated the media representation of the crime of witchcraft in early modern Germany, exploring how the crimes of witches were communicated in non-periodical news reports. Thanks to a generous two year NUI Travelling Studentship, Abaigéal was able to travel extensively around Germany, from Stuttgart to Wolfenbüttel, Munich to Berlin, and many places in between, in search of news reports concerning witches.
Focusing on the sixteenth and seventeenth century her research analyses how aspects of the cumulative concept of witchcraft were constructed and represented in the Neue Zeitungen. Abaigéal is interested in how these representations compare to the demonological literature of the period. As many of the reports contain woodcuts, her research also touches on the visual history of witchcraft and the relationship between image and text in the reports and how they relate more broadly to the iconography of witchcraft in the early modern world. When it comes to the reports themselves her project has examined where the narratives of certain witches and their crimes came from. Where did the (largely anonymous) authors of reports find their facts? Her research has found that many narratives were copied and recycled, or reused, in later texts and that there was an exchange and flow of concepts and ideas between demonological texts and the non-periodical reports on witches. Abaigéal is currently working on her first book on the witchcraft news reports.
More generally Abaigéal has a broad interest in early modern European history. She is primarily interested in witchcraft persecutions and the media representation of crime. She is also interested in visual culture, communication, and gender in the early modern world. Abaigéal was a lecturer and tutor for M01007: The Early Modern Western World last semester. She is a tutor for HI2001: History as Discipline this semester. Abaigéal is also involved in teaching and co-teaching on a number of M.Litt programmes: Early Modern History, Reformation Studies, and The Book History and Techniques of Analysis.
Outside academia Abaigéal has a number of interests: she is a keen baker and cake decorator. She enjoys running and hiking and practises Astanga yoga regularly.