CHRISTIANITY, SOCIAL/CULTURAL CHANGE & THE CULTURES OF MODERNITY
Tuesdays 2-5 PM
Prof. James A. Noel, SFTS
The course attempts to accomplish the ambitious task of studying Christianity in its global context from the beginning of the Modern Period up to the Contemporary Period. The course analyses the impact European voyages of discovery, the Renaissance, and the forces associated with the Protestant Reformation, the Enlightenment, the American and French Revolutions had on Christian religious practices, mentalities, and sensibilities in the West and, also, those who became westernized through colonialism, slavery, and Christian missions. The main text for this course, Howard Clark Kee’s Christianity: A Social and Cultural History, describes: “the encounters of Christianity with rationalistic and scientific modes of intellectual analysis…together with the resulting impact on philosophy, social theory, art, and literature” (p. V.). The works of western art indicated with each reading assignment and lecture topic .will help us perform this kind of analysis through the methodologies of aesthetics theory and “visual/material cultural studies.” The inclusion of art will allow us to observe what some people in the past were seeing and perhaps allow us to reflect on how the way seeing constitutes defines religious/cultural changed mentalities and sensibilities that interacts reciprocally with social practices. Thus, the student, in preparing for leadership positions in the church situated in the historical dynamic of modernity, is invited to imagine her/his prophetic/priestly role as “artist” who communicates with people who have acquired habits of seeing as well as thinking. This is another way of approaching the role religion plays in the social/visual construction of reality.
1) To gain basic knowledge of Christianity from the Reformation Period up to the 21st century.
2) To articulate that history in a global context inclusive of Western Europe, North America (USA), The Caribbean and South America, and to some extent Africa, and Asia.
3) To display "critical awareness of the impact of social, political, economic, and cultural contexts on life and thought" and interpret critically the "evidence on which historical knowledge is founded."
4) To begin to recognize, analyze, and define "knowledge of, respect for, and intelligent use of the Church's manifold traditions," in particular, intellectual, political, ritual, and social contexts of Christian doctrines of the Trinity, Christology, Soteriology, and Anthropology; the relations of Christianity to other indigenous and world religions.
5) To understand the role Christianity has played in the social construction of racial identities and the role it has played in countering racism.
NOTE: The five learning objective will be tested through three essay type exams as indicated in the syllabus that will each test these five objective with varying emphases. The exams will require students to examine and compare selected theological and/or political texts/documents and analyze them in terms of their historical, social, religious, and political contexts and ramifications.
- Regular class attendance, active participation in class discussions of assigned readings.
- Three take-home essay exams.
Texts (ON RESERVE):
- 1) Hilton, Boyd, The Age of Atonement The Influence of Evangelicalism on Social and Economic Thought, 1785-1865 (Oxford: 2001).
- 2) Kee, Howard Clark, Christianity: A Social History (Macmillan: 1991).
- 3) Lippy, Christianity Comes to the Americas.
Lecture Topics & Reading Assignments
- Armitage, David, The Ideological Origins of the British Empire (Cambridge 2000).
- Canizares-Esguerra, ed., The Atlantic in Global History (Pierson/Prentice Hall: 2007).
- Cragg, Gerald R., The Church and the Age of Reason, 148-1789 (Penguin 1970).
- Hobsbawm, Eric, The Age of Revolution 1789-1848 (Vintage: 1996).
- Knoll, Mark A., ed., Religion & American Politics: From the Colonial Period to the 1980s (Oxford: 1990).
- Linebaugh, Peter and Rediker, Marcus, The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic (Beacon 2000).
- Williams, Peter W., America’s Religions: Traditions and Cultures (Macmillan: 1990).
- Vidler, Alec R., The Church in the Age of Revolution (Penguin 1990)
Week One [2/2]:
Overview: Christian Missions, The Kingdom of God and the Symbolism of Evil.
Michelangelo’s “Pieta;” Caravaggio’s “Entombment of Christ;” Rubens’ “Descent from the Cross,” and “Venus;” Unknown artist, retablo of Chicaba;” Holbein the Younger’s “The Ambassadors.”
Greer and Mills, “The Catholic Atlantic,” pp. 3-20 in Canizares-Esquerra.
Canizares-Esquerra, “The Devil in the New World: A Transnational Perspective,” pp. 21-38.
Week Two [2/9]:
Bartolomeau de Las Casas, Sepulveda and the Theological/Anthropological Basis of Empire.
De Bry, “The Destruction of the Indies;” Tintoretto, “St Mark Freeing a Christian Slave” (1548) Accademia, Venice; Raphael’s “Repulse of Attila;” and Miguel Cabrera’s “Castas Paintings.”
Lippy, pp. 1-120.
Week Three [2/16]:
Seventeenth Century European Politics and Spirituality.
Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s main altar, Saint Andrea al Quirinale; Jacques Callot’s “Hangman’s Tree.”
Kee, pp. 427-479.
Week Four [2/23]:
Intellectual and Ecclesial Fault Lines: The Enlightenment, Pietism and Orthodoxy.
Jean-Honore Fragonard’s Portrait of Diderot; the Swing: Jacques-Louis David’s “Napoleon Crossing the Saint Bernard” and “The Death of Marat;” and Girodet’s “Portrait of Citizen Belly.”
Kee, pp. 485-548.
[3/2] TAKE-HOME ESSAY EXAM
Week Six [3/9]:
Geo-Political Fault Lines: Freedom vs. Empire, Non-Conformist vs. Conformity and British Colonization in Ireland and the Americas.
Thomas Gainsborough’s Portrait of Robert and Mary Andrews; Joseph Mallord William Turner’s The Slave Ship:
Armitage, pp. 125-145.
Cragg, pp. 157-173.
Week Seven: [3/16]:
Secular Causuistry, Slavery & The American Revolution: the Political Body, the Body of Christ and the Black Body.
William Blake’s “Negro Hung Alive;” Virtual tour of “Thomas Jefferson’s Monteciello”:
Kee, pp 603-688.
Stout, Henry “Rhetoric and Reality in the Early Republic: The Case of the Federalist Clergy,” pp. 62-74 in Knoll.
Wyatt-Brown, Bertram, “Religion and the ‘Civilizing Process’ in the Early American South, 1600-1860,” pp. 172-188 in Knoll.
Week Eight [3/23]:
Week Nine [3/30]:
The Self-Imposed Limits of Universalism: The French Revolution, its Aftermath and the Tragedy of Felicite de Lamannias.
Francisco Goya’s “The Third of May;” Gericault’s “Raft of Medusa” and “Portrait of a Kleptomaniac.”
Hobsbawm, pp. 53-76; 109-131.
Vidler, pp. 8-78.
Week Ten [4/6]:
The Industrial Revolution and Methodist Urban Ministry.
Philip James de Loutherbourg, “Coalbrookdale by Night;” Henry Fuseli’s “Nightmare”: Vincent Van Gough’s “The Starry Night”
Hobsbawm, pp. 27-52 217-233.
Cragg, pp. 141-156.
Week Eleven [4/13]:
Protestant Christian Economic Thought and the Naturalization of Laissez-Faire Capitalism.
John Singleton Copley’s Watson and the Shark..
Hilton, pp. 1-70.
Week Twelve [4/20]
TAKE-HOME ESSAY EXAM
Week Thirteen [4/27]:
Regionalism, Race, Religion, and Revivalism.
George Caleb Bingham’s “Fur Traders Descending the Missouri”:Hovenden “Last Moments of John Brown”:
Week Fourteen [5/4]:
The Social Gospel and the Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy.
Henry O. Tanner’s The Thankful Poor; Aaron Douglas’s “Building More Stately Mansions” William H. Johnson’s “Jesus and the Three Mary’s,” and “Chain Gang.”
Williams, pp. 230-274
Week Fifteen [5/11]:
The Civil Rights Movement, the Christian Right, Liberal Christianity Liberation Theologies and New Age Religions in Global Perspective.
Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’ Avignon; Romare Bearden, “Return of the Prodigal Son;” Diego Rivera, “The Arsenal”:.
Kee: pp. 549-599.
Williams, pp 323-360; 391-398; 406-436.
McDevitt, “Ireland, Latin America, and an Atlantic Liberation Theology,” pp. 239-249, in Canizares-Esguerra.
Week Sixteen [5/18]:
TAKE-HOME ESSAY EXAM