The Centre for the History of European Discourses was incorporated in the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities in August 2015.

The information in this website is therefore out of date but retained for archival and staff purposes.

Dr Sarah Ferber
BA (Hons), PhD (Melbourne)

Sarah Ferber is an active researcher in work in two unrelated fields: early modern European religion (with modern spin-offs on contemporary exorcism), and modern bioethics and its history. Her approach to early modern history is to consider the history of religion in that period in the light of the ascendancy of religion as a matter of public concern in the present. With the criminologist Adrian Howe she is researching contemporary exorcism, in particular the violence it has generated resulting in numerous deaths since the 1970s.

Her second research field is modern bioethics history and she has published several articles and chapters on this topic as well as having a book forthcoming.


Bioethics in Historical Perspective. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Submitted: Forthcoming, 2008.

Demonic Possession and Exorcism in Early Modern France, London: Routledge, 2004.

Chapters and Articles

‘The Abuse of History? Identity Politics, Disordered Identity and the “Really Real” in French Cases of Demonic Possession, Stephanie Tarbin and Susan Broomhall editors, Identities and Communities: Women and Political Cultures in Early Modern Europe’, Forthcoming, Ashgate, 2008

‘Possession and the sexes’ in Alison Rowlands, ed, Witchcraft and Masculinities in the early modern World, Palgrave Macmillan, 2008

‘As Sure As Eggs? Responses to an ethical question posed by Abramov, Elchalal and Schenker’. Journal of Clinical Ethics, 18:1, 2007, pp.35-48

‘Some Reflections on IVF, Emotions, and Patient Autonomy’, Journal of Clinical Ethics, 18:1, 2007,, pp. 53-55

With Adrian Howe, ‘Delivering Demons, punishing wives’, Punishment and Society, 7 (2), April 2005, 123-146.

‘The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Devil: Exorcism, expertise and secularisation in a late twentieth-century Australian criminal court.’ With Adrian Howe, in Hans de Waardt, Juergen Schmidt, and Dieter Bauer (eds), in cooperation with Sönke Lorenz and H.C. Erik Midelfort, Dämonische Besessenheit Zur Interpretation eines kulturhistorischen Phänomens/Demonic possession. Interpretations of a historo-cultural phenomenon, (Hexenforschung 9), Bielefeld: Verlag für Regionalgeschichte, 2005. pp. 281–92.

‘Cultivating Charisma: Elisabeth de Ranfaing and the Médailliste cult in seventeenth-century Lorraine.’ In F.W. Kent and Charles Zika (eds), Rituals, Images and Words: Varieties of Cultural Expression in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe, Turnhout: Brepols, 2005. pp. 55–84.

‘Miracle in Iowa: metaphor, analogy and anachronism in the History of Bioethics’, (in press) Monash Bioethics Review, 2004.

‘Possession Sanctified: the case of Marie des Vallées’, in Jürgen Beyer, Albrecht Burkardt, Fred van Lieburg and Marc Wingens (eds.), Confessional Sanctity (c. 1500 – c. 1800), Veröffentlichungen des Instituts für europäische Geschichte Mainz, Abteilung abendländische Religionsgeschichte, Herausgegeben von Gerhard May, Beiheft 51, Mainz: Verlag Philipp von Zabern, 2003, 259-70.

‘Reformed or Recycled? Possession and exorcism in the sacramental life of early modern France’, in Kathryn Edwards (ed.), Witches, Werewolves and Wandering Spirits, in Sixteenth-century Essays and Studie Traditional Belief & Folklore in Early Modern Europe (Sixteenth Century Essays & Studies, V. 62) s, Kirksville, Missouri: Truman State University Press, 2002, 55-75.


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