Walpurgisnacht on the Brocken, German post card, ca. 1900.
The sexual anarchy of the witches’ sabbat has always fascinated its students.


Studies in Sexuality

As my study of irregular healers included abortionists, a logical step forward was to pay attention to sexuality as a topic of its own. Unfortunately, this was never much developed and when I moved again to the witches and werewolves, my research on for instance castration in early twentieth-century Germany remained unpublished. It is still exciting, to mention another example, to read legend texts as referring to sexual encounters. This especially concerns the nightmare (succubus) and the (Dutch) werewolf texts; modern witches, devils and ghosts largely remain outside the sexual discourses. There is still enough material for a future book.
The study of sexuality is also one of the few areas in, or on the edge of, medical history where the constructionist approach has been recognised as inescapable and the medical inclination to pathologise `deviancy’ has been criticised.

– Cultures of Abortion in The Hague in the Early Twentieth Century, in: Franz X. Eder, Lesley A. Hall & Gert Hekma (eds), Sexual Cultures in Europe. Themes in Sexuality. Manchester, MUP (1999): 195-212.

– `Hygienic articles, patent medicines and rubber goods’: Markets and meanings in early-twentieth century Netherlands, in: Marijke Gijswijt-Hofstra, Godelieve van Heteren & Tilly Tansy (eds), Biographies of Remedies. Drugs, Medicines and Contraceptives in Dutch and Anglo-American Healing Cultures. Amsterdam/New York, Rodopi (2002): 183-292.


– Bedding the Nightmare: Somatic Experience and Narrative Meaning in Dutch and Flemish Legend Texts, Folklore 114 (2003): 227-245. JSTOR

– Tekst en taboe. Over de ontmanning van zedenmisdadigers, in: Amanda Kluveld & others, Genezen. Opstellen bij het afscheid van Marijke Gijswijt-Hofstra. Amsterdam, Palla Publications (2005): 104-117.

– Tabu und Kommunikation. Ansätze einer sprachlich orientierten Studie zur Abtreibung, in: Willem de Blécourt (ed.), Sisters of Subversion. Amsterdam, AMB Press (2008): 105-116.