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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Divinity : History of Christianity

Postgraduate Course: Religion and the Enlightenment: The Birth of the Modern (ECHS11013)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Divinity CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryAn exploration of religion and the Enlightenment in its national contexts in Europe and North America.
Course description Academic Description:
The course explores themes relating to religion and the Enlightenment in its national contexts in Europe and North America between the mid seventeenth century and the early nineteenth century. It considers the extent to which the Enlightenment represented a major shift of Western thought away from traditional patterns of religion belief and practice. The course both evaluates the challenges posed to Christianity by the radical Enlightenment, and it reflects on the mainstream movement that can be described as the Christian Enlightenment. It also considers the emergence of the Romantic movement and the relations between Enlightened and Romantic views of religious faith.

Syllabus/Outline Content:
The course applies historical approaches to religious beliefs and Enlightenment thought, with a strong emphasis on skills in assessing historical evidence. Themes include the rise of modern science and the 'disenchantment' of nature; the 'deist controversy'; absolutism, Enlightened despotism, and the alliance of throne and altar; conceptions of providence in history; the development of critical approaches to the Christian scriptures; Enlightened approaches to the passions and religion; the Churches and the American and French Revolutions; movements of religious awakening during the era of democratic revolutions, and religion and early Romanticism. We will read works by a number of key thinkers, including Baruch Spinoza, John Locke, John Toland, Baron d'Holbach, Voltaire, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Jefferson, Tom Paine, Germaine de StaŽl, and Friedrich Schleiermacher.

Student Learning Experience Information:
The course meets weekly for a two-hour session, with the first hour devoted to a lecture and the second hour to a discussion of a key text or texts. The lectures are extensively illustrated with images, and there is opportunity for questions and discussion. There is a schedule of reading to be carried out before each class meeting, and students introduce the seminar readings. Through participation in lectures and seminar discussions, and through the essay project, students will demonstrate their achievement of the intended learning outcomes.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesThis is a graduate-level course. Please confirm subject prerequisites with the Course Manager.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Recognise how religion, and especially Christianity, played a vital role in the Enlightenment project
  2. Construct historical explanations and arguments, drawing appropriate national comparisons
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of the religious and intellectual history of Europe and North America during the age of the Enlightenment
  4. Show critical awareness of the treatment of religion in the writings of key thinkers of the Enlightenment and the early Romantic movement
Reading List
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsEcclesiastical History
Course organiserProf Stewart Brown
Tel: (0131 6)50 8951
Course secretaryMs Roisin O'Fee
Tel: (0131 6)50 8921
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