The Catholic University of America

The Christian Tradition

This sequence is our Humanities track, and covers major topics and themes in the history of Christian culture from its origins in late antiquity to the 20th and 21st centuries.

The courses in this sequence are taught by faculty from the departments of English, Greek and Latin, History, Modern Languages and Literatures, Politics, Religion, Semitics, and the Center for the Study of Early Christianity.

 

 

 

 Courses Include:

Jesus to Muhammad: The Early Christians in the Mediterranean World 
HSHU 101
Discusses the formative years of the Christian tradition, from its roots in the Hellenistic world to the rise of Islam, with special consideration given to regional developments in the Christian community. Students read influential documents of this period and view and discuss early Christian art.


Charlemagne to Chaucer: The Christian Life in the Middle Ages
HSHU 102
Designed in a thematic rather than chronological format, the course explores the role and influence of medieval Christian institutions, thought, spirituality and religious practices within the context of social, political and economic institutions.   In addition to weekly lectures, our discussions analyze primary sources drawn from a wide variety of genres and historical circumstances, which aid each participant to develop the critical skills for analysis.  In addition to looking at pivotal figures such as St. Francis, Dante, Abelard and Heloise, topics include: church and state; war and peace; varieties of Christian experience; Jews, Christians, and Muslims; the Crusades; and the built environment.
 

The Age of Discovery
HSHU 203
This course considers the Renaissance, when great discoveries and rediscoveries of the past changed the cultural horizons of European men and women. It examines these new views through the fine arts and architecture of the age and through the writings of Christian humanists. Classical literature, rhetoric, history and moral philosophy-- among the primary concerns of the new learning--are also a main part of the topics for discussion in this course.

 

Christian Culture: The Secular Age
HSHU 204
This course explores the conflict between Christian thought and the secular age, from 1750 to the present. Beginning with Pietism and the Enlightenment of the 18th century, it concludes with a living defender of the Enlightenment, Jürgen Habermas, in dialog with Joseph Ratzinger, shortly before he became Benedict XVI. This course does not propose a linear reading of Western culture. Instead, it traces the tension between Christianity and Secularism through several distinct historical phases: the pre-history of the French Revolution and the Revolution; the early 19th century, with its abiding revolutionary energy, which engendered enthusiasm and antipathy; the late 19th century, as shaped by the anti-Christian Nietzsche, the proto-Christian Wagner and the Christian Dostoevsky; the early 20th century and its revolutions (Nazi, Bolshevik and Freudian); and the later half of the 20th century, traumatized by Holocaust and Gulag, though alive with cultural radicalism, spiritual striving and its own version of the struggle between secular and Christian norms.