History 366 (201) Europe during the Reformation




Course Level



This course will explore the revolutionary changes in European society and culture brought on by the religious reformations of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. We will study the lives, thoughts and initiatives of important Protestant and Catholic reformers, the creation of new ecclesiastical institutions, and examine the everyday religious experiences of ordinary people (how they contributed to and/or resisted reform). We will approach ‘Reformation’ as a religious phenomenon but one that was inseparable from broader social, cultural, political and economic transformations. How did Martin Luther or John Calvin’s theology impact state diplomacy, local communities and individuals? Why did the Spanish and Italian Inquisitions exist and what did they do, in theory and in practice? What impact did religious reform have on issues of gender, class and race? What/who was a ‘saint’, a ‘heretic’, a ‘witch’, and what did they do? What role did art, music, and material culture play in religious devotion? As we investigate these and other questions, we will take a cross-cultural and global perspective: what role did Jewish and Muslim communities play in Christian reform movements, and how were these communities affected by reform? What role did religion play in European imperialist ambitions, and how was Christianity transformed by interactions with the peoples and faiths of the Americas, Asia and Africa? Throughout the course, we will ask what did ‘Reformation’ mean in the early modern period, and critically reflect on how its histories have been written.