Religion & the Making of the Modern West

History 100U.002

Spring 2018
101 LSBA (Life Sciences Addition)
Day & Time: 
TuTh 2-3:30
Class Number: 

As it recovered from one of the most devastating epidemics in world history, Europe in 1400 was a patchwork of wealth and poverty, law and disorder, urban enclaves and vast peasant hinterlands. Whatever unity it had depended on an inheritance from the Roman empire, above all a Church whose institutions gave a semblance of order and coherence to this heterogeneous continent. Over the next 600 years, "Christendom" would give way to a host of new Christianities; this Europe would give way to political and cultural forms collectively if vaguely called "the West." And one of the chief products of this transformation was the emergence of something called "religion," understood to be somehow distinct from other realms of experience and power such as "society" or "the state."

This class charts this epochal transformation, paying special attention to the violent expansion of Europe to the Americas, the conflicts attending the European Reformation, the history of the missions, the development of sects and denominations, the theory and practice of toleration, the emergence of modern secularism, as well as the challenge of religious minorities in modern America and Europe.