Sands, Kathleen R.

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Sands, Kathleen R.


Education: Holds a Ph.D.




Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, professor of intellectual history; previously taught at other universities, including University of Richmond, Richmond, VA, and Mary Baldwin College, Staunton, VA; developer of educational programs for museums and historic sites.


An Elizabethan Lawyer's Possession by the Devil: The Story of Robert Brigges, Praeger (Westport, CT), 2002.

Demon Possession in Elizabethan England, Praeger (Westport, CT), 2004.


Writer and educator Kathleen R. Sands has served on the faculty of a number of colleges and universities, including both the University of Richmond and Mary Baldwin College in Virginia, and Temple University in Philadelphia, focusing on classes in history and literature. Between her teaching positions, she has also helped to develop a number of educational programs in conjunction with major museums and historical sites across the country. An expert on the literature of the Elizabethan period, particularly literature relating to religion and the forces of evil and the devil as they were perceived during that time, she also holds a doctoral degree in early modern English literature and history. Sands is the author of An Elizabethan Lawyer's Possession by the Devil: The Story of Robert Brigges and of Demon Possession in Elizabethan England.

In Demon Possession in Elizabethan England, Sands analyzes the ways in which people expressed what was essentially a form of religious conflict through a state of demon possession. Some of those claiming possession were mere frauds, while others suffered from varying states of mental illness, but all reflected in some way on the religious tenets of the times and on their own struggles to deal with various aspects of the behavior expected of them and the beliefs that shaped their society. The possessions themselves had a theatrical nature to them and enabled individuals to speak outside their positions in life, so that children might speak against parents, servants against employers, and so on. The ongoing feud between the Protestants and the Catholics frequently manifested itself in such a way, particularly in cases of people who were forced to convert for political reasons. Sands includes a number of case studies in her book, which range from emotional to amusing to simply strange or inexplicable. She primarily addresses the people and their situations, while also providing enough history of the Elizabethan era to give readers less familiar with the period the proper context and some interesting facts. John Bedell, in a review for the Historian, remarked that "the author tends rather to avoid than confront the most interesting questions about possession. Sands says little about the state of mind of the demoniacs, and though she implies that the act is in some sense intentional, she seems to think the only possible purpose is external." James Sharpe, writing for the Journal of Ecclesiastical History, concluded that "while she succeeds in making these stories accessible to the non-specialist reader, it is fair to say that Sands's powers of analysis do not match her narrative skills."



Canadian Journal of History, December 1, 2005, "Strange Histories: The Trial of the Pig, the Walking Dead, and Other Matters of Fact from the Medieval and Renaissance Worlds," p. 494.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, June 1, 2005, D.A. Rivard, review of Demon Possession in Elizabethan England, p. 1888.

English Historical Review, September 1, 2007, Darrien Oldridge, review of Demon Possession in Elizabethan England, p. 1082.

Historian, summer, 2006, John Bedell, review of Demon Possession in Elizabethan England, p. 399.

Journal of Ecclesiastical History, April 1, 2007, James Sharpe, review of Demon Possession in Elizabethan England, p. 346.

Reference & Research Book News, February 1, 2003, review of An Elizabethan Lawyer's Possession by the Devil: The Story of Robert Brigges, p. 21.