Mar 21, 2023  
College Catalog 2015-2016 
College Catalog 2015-2016 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

RELI 346 - Religious Reform and Violence: Catholic, Protestant, and Radical

The sixteenth century in Europe thus marks a turning point from a Medieval culture defined by Catholic institutions to the independent, so-called secular, sovereign nation states of the modern era. Throughout this period of time the splintering of Roman Catholicism into diverse Protestant and Radical groups came at the cost of great economic and political upheaval. The violence with which these groups broke away from a once Holy Roman Empire produced waves of Jewish, Muslim, and so-called heretic Christian refugees fleeing across Europe, often to the Ottoman Empire on the east and to the newly discovered territories across the Atlantic on the west. The Ottoman Empire absorbed Jew, Muslim, and Christian alike with a relative lack of conflict. By contrast, within Europe, religious wars raged well into the 17th century, as emerging European nation-states enslaved African peoples and devastated the indigenous populations across the Atlantic. How did religious thought and practice figure into this drama? For example, what role did apocalypticism play in religious reform and revolution? What is the significance of Christian evangelism for colonial expansion? How did Christian discourse on witchcraft legitimate the slaughter of European women and the colonized of both genders to reinforce elite European male privilege? How did the definition of “human” shape and get reshaped by theological debate over the status of indigenous peoples and African slaves in what became the Americas? What ambiguous role did Protestant thought and practice play in the emergence of concepts of individual freedom, private property, secularism, and capitalism, as we know them today? Is this violence unique to Christian traditions? Is it characteristic of religious traditions in general? Or does the secularism we take for granted produce its own versions as well? We will explore these questions among others over the course of the semester. We will approach this subject in an interdisciplinary fashion, drawing on primary texts in translation, secondary historical sources, art, architecture, music, and film. (4 Credits)