CC 300 FX: Faith & Folly: Religion in the Renaissance

3 Credits – Cross-listed with THEO 329 CX and HIST —
TR 10:30-11:45 pm – Professor Rittgers

Fulfills upper level theology requirement or humanities: history requirement.

The Renaissance (ca. 1350-ca. 1630) was an exciting period of rebirth, renewal, and discovery in Europe. There was great interest in looking back to the wisdom of classical antiquity—both Christian and pagan—to address the pressing problems of contemporary society (e.g. plague, war, schism, and corruption). But there was also considerable enthusiasm for pressing forward with new initiatives and undertakings that challenged received tradition (e.g. fresh translations of the Bible, exploration of the “new” world, and the discovery of the heliocentric universe). This looking back and looking forward were both characteristic of the Renaissance. Nowhere was this truer than in the religious life. This seminar will examine the works of leading Renaissance figures in order to understand how they sought to renew the religious life of Europe at both the individual and institutional levels. These figures include Petrarch, Lorenzo Valla, Christine de Pizan, Erasmus, Thomas More, Martin Luther, Philipp Melanchthon, Marguerite of Navarre, Montaigne, and Galileo. Along with others, such figures challenged what they saw as the folly of church and society, even as they endeavored to promote a more authentic Christian faith. The religious developments of the Renaissance profoundly shaped the western world and are still at work in the modern period. This seminar will thus help students to understand one of the true watershed epochs of the past so that they might make better sense of the present.  

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