Afterlife of the Reformation: Embodied Souls and their Rivals (seminar)

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Brad Gregory
Spring 2015 Semester Seminar

Since the sixteenth century, the embodied souls of medieval Latin Christianity have both persisted and been reinterpreted in myriad ways. Conceptions of human corporeality have converged in the modern era with the advance of modern biology and medicine, whereas conceptions of human souls have diverged in an open-ended range of religious and secular views about what human beings are. The early modern period lies at the heart of these processes, as Catholic and Protestant controversialists squared off with conflicting theological anthropologies, learned scholars revived and transformed ancient philosophical ideas, extra-European peoples presented different views of human beings, and foundationalist philosophers sought to answer on the basis of reason alone what human beings are and what they should be. This multidisciplinary seminar sought advanced graduate students as well as faculty working on projects that address conceptions of human nature from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries. It welcomed historians of ideas, religion, culture, the body, and medicine, as well as scholars from departments of literature, religious studies, political science, theology, and philosophy with projects anchored in early modern Europe, including its colonial and global commercial contexts. Participants had opportunities to share their work-in-progress, whether dissertation chapters, book chapters, or articles.

Director: Brad Gregory is Professor of History and Dorothy G. Griffin Collegiate Chair at the University of Notre Dame. His most recent book, The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society (2012), examined the continuing impact of the Reformation era’s conflicts on the contemporary Western world. He is currently working on a history of rival views of human nature from the Middle Ages to the present.