WIN 19: Religious History Courses

HIST 20110  Trans-Saharan Africa  (R. Austen)  This course will deal with various developments (trade, politics, religion, slavery, voluntary migration) linking the Maghrib/North Africa with the great African desert and the "Sudanic" lands to its south. Along with lectures and discussions of readings we will visit an exhibit, Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time: Art, Culture, and Medieval Trans-Saharan Exchange, at the Block Museum of Art in Evanston.

HIST 21903  Medieval Christian Mythology  (R. Fulton Brown)  Heaven and hell, angels and demons, the Virgin Mary and the devil battling over the state of human souls, the world on the edge of apocalypse awaiting the coming of the Judge and the resurrection of the dead, the transubstantiation of bread and wine into body and blood, the great adventures of the saints. As Rudolf Bultmann put it in his summary of the "world picture" of the New Testament, "all of this is mythological talk," arguably unnecessary for Christian theology. And yet, without its mythology, much of Christianity become incomprehensible as a religious or symbolic system. This course is intended as an introduction to the stories that medieval Christians told about God, his Mother, the angels, and the saints, along with the place of the sacraments and miracles in the world picture of the medieval church. Sources will range from Hugh of St. Victor's summa on the sacraments to Hildegard of Bingen's visionary Scivias, the Pseudo-Bonaventuran Meditations on the Life of Christ, and Jacobus de Voragine's Golden Legend, along with handbooks on summoning angels and cycles of mystery plays.

HIST 24602  Objects of Japanese History  (J. Ketelaar)  The collections of Japanese objects held at the University of Chicago's Smart Museum, the Field Museum of Natural History, and the Art Institute of Chicago will be examined as case studies in museum studies, collection research, and, more specifically, in the interpretation of things "Japanese." Individual objects will be examined, not only for religious, aesthetic, cultural, and historical issues, but also for what they tell us of the collections themselves and the relation of these collections to museum studies per se. This year, in particular, we will examine the major exhibition of Floating World (Ukiyo) paintings held at the Art Institute. We will make several study trips to the Smart Museum, the Field Museum of Natural History, and the Art Institute of Chicago during class time.