Science, Religion, and Magic in Early Modern Europe (Proseminar in History of Science)

History 103S.001

Fall 2017
3205 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
Th 2-4
Class Number: 

This seminar studies the momentous transformation of knowledge that took place between the late sixteenth and the early eighteenth century, and which is usually described as the Scientific Revolution. During this period, the criteria for assessing what can count as sound evidence changed significantly, as did those to judge whether an argument is valid, or a belief credible. We shall explore the social and cultural contexts in which Western science emerged as a distinctive kind of knowledge and set of practices. At the same time, we shall look at the continuing vitality, throughout this period, of forms of religious and magical experience. How do historians understand this entanglement of recognizably modern ways of thinking with beliefs in magic, astrology, prophecy, and witchcraft?