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UChicago HIST 32002 - Syllabus

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THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO History 23002/33002 Constantin Fasolt Religious Studies 22602 Office: HM 250 Winter 2008 Office hour: by appointment MW 1:30-2:50 Office phone: 702 7925 [email protected] THE PROTESTANT REFORMATION IN GERMANY This course is intended to introduce you to historical knowledge about the Protestant Reformation and to test the assumptions underlying that knowledge. It is meant to equip upper-level undergraduates and graduate students with a solid grasp of the main difficulties in understanding the history of the Reformation and with the ability to formulate well-informed research projects of their own original design. The method of the course consists of reading historical literature about the Reformation and reflecting on the issues raised by that reading. For reasons to be explained in class, you will not be required to read any primary sources. The format of the course will be a flexible mixture of lecture and discussion. I will lead the class with a systematic commentary on the readings. I will often refer to specific pages, and I will read particularly important passages out loud. It will therefore be useful if you bring your own copy of the readings to class, so that you can read and mark the passages I quote for yourself. If there is anything you do not understand, feel free to ask questions at any time. I will presuppose that you have done the readings ahead of class. If you do not do the readings before class, you will be wasting your time. But doing the readings is merely the first step. Even if you read the assignments thoroughly, you will find yourself left with many unanswered questions. Indeed, the more thoroughly you do the readings, the more your questions will multiply. The point of this course is not to put an end to questions. It rather is to put you into a position to ask questions that are well informed. So as to maintain a clear focus, the course is largely limited to the Reformation in Germany. So as to develop a broad perspective, the course pays much attention to classic statements by which current scholarship continues to be informed, often in ways that are not openly acknowledged and even more often in ways of which historians themselves are not quite aware. The course emphasizes variety over depth, so as to expose you to as many different angles of perception as possible. You will be asked to read a great many articles, chapters, and selections from books. If the reading seems overwhelming to you, remember this: the purpose of this course is not for you to master every detail of the subject matter addressed by the readings, but to gain a grasp on the different kinds of approaches that have been taken to the Reformation by different historians over time. The course is divided into three main parts. In part one, we will examine a few pieces that will give you a sense of the issues uppermost on the minds of Reformation historians2 about a generation ago and the way in which those issues were framed . In part two, we will turn to famous older interpretations and read them in chronological order in order to develop a sense both of what has changed and what has remained the same in the study of the Reformation since the origins of professional history in the nineteenth century (Hegel, Ranke, Engels, Weber, Troeltsch, Febvre). In part three we will examine writings by some leading historians in the last thirty to forty years (Bernd Moeller, Heiko Oberman, Francis Oakley, Thomas Brady, Gerald Strauss, Bob Scribner, John Bossy, Wolfgang Reinhard, and others) on a series of topics that have received special attention in order to show how the agenda of Reformation historians has changed. This course aims at deepening your grasp of fundamental issues in historical method with regard to a major topic of historical investigation: the Reformation. The course is not intended to give you a comprehensive overview of Reformation history. The readings are substantial, but they are focused on a few important historians and a few topics of particularly telling debate. There is a large range of issues that do not even appear on this syllabus. Some of the most obvious are the history of women and gender, the expansion of Europe, science, art, economic history, and military history. The reason for their omission is not that they do not matter for understanding the Reformation or that they have not received a lot of attention, but that no attempt at coverage could overcome the constraints imposed on us by a ten-week quarter. It is my hope that the topics and the historians I have chosen will make it easier for you to see the parallels to developments that have taken place in historical work by other historians on other subjects, should you ever decide to turn to such other historical work. If you feel entirely at sea and would like to learn the basic facts about the Reformation I recommend that you read pp. 372-421 in William H. McNeill, History of Western Civilization: A Handbook, 6th ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986). This is a very brief and effective summary of conventional textbook knowledge. If that's not enough for you, I recommend that you read Euan Cameron, The European Reformation (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991). This is probably the best general textbook about the Reformation that is currently available. Another good possibility is Diarmaid MacCulloch, The Reformation (New York: Viking, 2004). All of the required readings are on reserve in Regenstein Library. Most of them are available on electronic reserve. I have also asked the Seminary Co-op Bookstore to make the following books available for purchase: Euan Cameron, The European Reformation (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991) Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, The Philosophy of History, trans. J. Sibree (New York: Dover, 1956) Friedrich Engels, The Peasant War in Germany, trans. David Riasanov (New York: International Publishers, 1926) Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, trans. Talcott Parsons (New York: Scribner, 1958) Ernst Troeltsch, Protestantism and Progress: A Historical Study of the Relation of Protestantism to the Modern World, trans. W. Montgomery (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 1999).3 One book that is central to this course is unfortunately out of print, namely Bernd Moeller, Imperial Cities and the Reformation, trans. H. C. Erik Midelfort and Mark U. Edwards, Jr. (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1972). Since we are going to read all


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