Rachel Fulton

Department of History

The University of Chicago

 

RELIGIOUS THOUGHT IN THE LATER MIDDLE AGES

 

Autumn 2009

 

It is perhaps appropriate given the secular bent of much modern thinking that it is easier to define the subject of this course by what it is not than by what it is.  First and foremost, it is not the study of religious ideas as they affected society nor of religious ideas as they affected the development of scientific thinking or political theory.  But neither is it simply the study of theology as an intellectual discipline nor of religious ideas as they were put into practice.  It is perhaps best defined as a study of the intersection between theology, exegesis, contemplation, devotion and prayer, with the understanding that all of the above were underpinned by the observance of the liturgy and yet were also assumed to have an effect on the experience of everyday life.  It involves questions of aesthetics as well as psychology, of communal, sensory and imaginative engagement with the world as well as ascetic withdrawal therefrom.  It is interesting that we at this point have no single word for this engagement but in the period with which we will be concerned it was what being “religious” meant: bound to God.  One of the principal challenges of this course will be coming to some appreciation of why it is so difficult for us now to see the world in this way.

 

BOOKS AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE FROM THE SEMINARY CO-OP BOOKSTORE

 

The Cloud of Unknowing and Other Works, trans. A.C. Spearing (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 2001).

Walter Hilton, The Scale of Perfection, trans. John P.H. Clark and Rosemary Dorward (New York: Paulist Press, 1991).

William Langland, Piers Plowman: A New Translation of the B-Text, trans. A.V.C. Schmidt (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992).

Henry Suso, Wisdom’s Watch Upon the Hours, trans. Edmund Colledge, The Fathers of the Church: Mediaeval Continuation 4 (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1994).

Denis the Carthusian, Spiritual Writings, trans. Íde M. Riain (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2005). 

 

COURSE REQUIREMENTS

Discussions and class participation 30%

Textual analyses x 3 (5 pages each) 30%

Final paper (12-15 pages) 40%

 

READING AND DISCUSSION ASSIGNMENTS

 

Weeks 1-2: Doctrine

September 29

St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologica, trans. by the Fathers of the English Dominican Province (New York: Benziger Brothers, 1947-1948), first part, quaestio 1 (“Treatise on Sacred Doctrine).  [Online at http://www.ccel.org/ccel/aquinas/summa.toc.html] [BX1750.T544 v. 1-3]

 

October 1

St. Bonaventure, The Breviloquium, trans. José de Vinck (Paterson, N.J.: St. Anthony Guild Press, 1963), parts I & II.  [BX890.B673123 v. 2]

St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologica [selections TBA]

 

October 6

St. Bonaventure, Breviloquium, trans. de Vinck, parts III & IV

St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa theological [selections TBA]

 

October 8

St. Bonaventure, Breviloquium, trans. de Vinck, pp. V, VI & VII

St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa theological [selections TBA]

 

Week 3: Preaching

October 13 

Humbert of Romans, De eruditione praedicatorum (On the formation of preachers), trans. Simon Tugwell, in Early Dominicans: Selected Writings (New York: Paulist Press, 1982), pp. 181-370. [BX3503.E230 1982]

 

October 15

Assignment: students should pick a preacher to report on; analysis should give overview of collection and focus on one or two particular sermons as examples of his thinking.

 

Week 4: Meditation & Liturgy

October 20

John of Caulibus, Meditationes vitae Christi (Meditations on the Life of Christ), trans. and ed. Francis X. Taney, Anne Miller and C. Mary Stallings-Taney (Asheville, NC: Pegasus Press, 2000).

 

October 22

Gertrude of Helfta, Legatus divinae pietatis (The Herald of Divine Love), book 2, trans. and ed. Margaret Winkworth (New York: Paulist Press, 1993), pp. 94-155.  [BX4700.G6A30 1993] 

 


Week 5: Contemplation & Prayer

October 27

The Cloud of Unknowing, trans. A.C. Spearing (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 2001), pp. 11-101. [BV5080.C56 2001]

 

October 29  

Walter Hilton, Scala perfectionis (The Scale of Perfection), trans. John P.H. Clark and Rosemary Dorward (New York: Paulist Press, 1991).  [BX2349.H540 1991]

 

Week 6: Vision & Criticism

November 3 

William Langland, Piers Plowman: A New Translation of the B-Text, trans. A.V.C. Schmidt (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992). [PR2013.S3 2000]

 

November 5 

Birgitta of Sweden, Life and Selected Revelations, trans. Albert Ryle Kezel (New York: Paulist Press, 1990), pp. 101-218.  [BX4700.B62E50 1990]

 

Week 7: Wisdom & Love

November 10 

Henry Suso, Horologium Sapientiae (Wisdom’s Watch Upon the Hours), trans. Edmund Colledge, The Fathers of the Church: Mediaeval Continuation 4 (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1994).  [BV5080.S48130 1994]

 

November 12 

John Ruusbroec, The Spiritual Espousals, trans. James A. Wiseman (New York: Paulist Press, 1985), pp. 41-152.  [BV5080.R8822130 1985]

 

Week 8: Imitation & Devotion

November 17 

Geert Grote, “Resolutions and Intentions, But Not Vows,” and “Noteworthy Sayings of Master Geert,” in Devotio Moderna, trans. John Van Engen (New York: Paulist Press, 1988), pp. 65-77. [BR270.D480 1988]

“Edifying Points of the Older Sisters,” in Devotio Moderna, trans. Van Engen, pp. 121-36.

“The Devotion,” in Devotio Moderna, trans. Van Engen, pp. 155-215.

 

November 19

Thomas of Kempen, The Imitation of Christ, trans. Leo Sherley-Price (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1952).  [BV4821.S547 2005 or BV4828.K4213 1952]

 


Week 9: Scripture

November 24

John Wycliffe, De veritate Sacrae Scripturae (On the Truth of Holy Scripture), trans. Ian Christopher Levy (Kalamazoo, MI: TEAMS, 2001), pp. 41-53, 72-86, 97-130, 148-55, 285-92, 300-6, 352-59.  [BS480.W9313 2001]

The Bible of the Poor (Biblia Pauperum): A Facsimile and Edition of the British Library Blockbook C.9 d.2, trans. and commentary by Albert C. Labriola and John W. Smeltz (Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press, 1990). [Z241.B6B5130 1990]

 

November 26  THANKSGIVING

 

Week 10: Summa religionis

December 1 

Denis the Carthusian, Contemplation, trans. Íde M. Riain, in Spiritual Writings (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2005), pp. 3-196.  [BR75.D46 2005]

 

December 3

Denis the Carthusian, Prayer, trans. Riaian, pp. 199-272.

 

FINAL PAPER DUE THURSDAY, DECEMBER 10 AT 12 NOON IN HM-E 686

 

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