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The Crucible

A USC Libraries Exploration

Ross Scimeca

To add to your enjoyment and understanding of The Crucible, the USC Libraries present a selection of books and articles that illuminate key issues in Arthur Miller’s 1952 play and the historic circumstances of the 1692 Salem witchcraft trials.

Visions and Voices will present two performances of the play, on October 12th and 13th, in the Bing Theatre on the University Park Campus.


Arthur Miller’s The Crucible

Claudia B. Johnson, Understanding The Crucible: A student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents, (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1998). The book is available at Doheny Library under call number PS3525.I516C7345 1998.

Arthur Miller, The Crucible, edited and with an introduction by Harold Bloom (Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2004). The book is available at Leavey Library under call number PS3525.I5156C7337 2004.


The Salem Witchcraft Trials

Peter Charles Hoffer, The Devil’s Disciples: Makers of the Salem Witchcraft Trials (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996). The book is available at Doheny Library under call number KFM2478.8.W5H64 1996.

Mary Beth Norton, In the Devil’s Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692 (New York: Vintage Books, 2002). The book is available online and in hardcopy at Doheny Library under call number BF1575.N67 2002.


Ergotism: A Theory

Did a fungus play a role in the 1692 Salem witchcraft trials? Linda R. Caporael offers a physiological explanation for the events in “Ergotism: The Satan Loosed in Salem?” In her well-documented article, she argues that a fungus in the barley crop contributed to the hysterical atmosphere by causing convulsive ergotism among the people of Salem.

Caporael’s article is available online. It first appeared in Science, Volume 192 (2 April 1976).

PBS revisited Caporael’s theory in an episode of the Secrets of the Dead series.



For research assistance or additional information about these topics, please contact philosophy and humanities librarian Ross Scimeca at