The Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century was one of the major transformations in the history of Christianity, a faith whose 2.2 billion adherents make it the largest religion in the world today. Martin Luther and his followers sparked a schism that changed what it meant to be a Christian, and, by various reckonings, helped to create the state as we know it, the modern self, capitalism and even, as an unintended consequence, secularism. As inhabitants of a post-Protestant society, we have much to learn about the world in which we live from studying the Reformation and its legacies. While considering classic interpretations, this seminar will also probe recent research on the plural Reformations: not just Protestant but also Catholic, and not solely the elite movement of Luther and John Calvin but also the Reformation of women and peasants. What was at stake in these sweeping transformations of what it meant to be a Christian? We will consider theological debates about human agency, the changing relationship of religion and the state, female mysticism, religious warfare, iconoclasm, the arrival of Protestantism in New England, and toleration. We will work intensively in Chapin Library, examining books of hours, Bibles, missals, psalters, and primers. The seminar will also visit WCMA and the Hancock Shaker Village. Authors to be read include Luther, Calvin, Teresa of Ávila, Jean Bodin, Ignatius of Loyola, and John Winthrop. Note: due to the constraints of rare-book research, enrollment is capped at 12.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
yes fifth course option
two short papers (5-7 pages) and a longer final paper (10-12 pages)
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
HIST Group C Electives - Europe and Russia
HIST Group P Electives - Premodern