CURRENT COURSES

Spring 2024

TRANSCENDENTAL COUNTERCULTURES (HRRA-5200)
Dr. Devin Zuber
(01/29/2024-05/17/2024)
Thursdays 9:40am-12:30pm
This seminar begins by surveying the group of radical writers and artists associated with 19th century American Transcendentalism, reading that movement primarily as a spiritual rebellion against the religious orthodoxies and cultural conservatism of its day. The second part of the class traces Transcendentalism’s many dilations into 20th century counterculture(s), giving particular attention to midcentury Cold War coteries in the San Francisco Bay Area and in New York City that were influenced by Transcendentalist ideas about spirituality, environmentalism, politics, and gender relations (to name a few). Readings will include essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson and pioneering feminist Margaret Fuller, Henry David Thoreau’s *Walden*, as well as related work by abolitionist Frederick Douglass. 20th century materials covered include films (and music) by Jonas Mekas and Harry Smith, poetry from the Berkeley and San Francisco Renaissances (Jack Spicer, Robert Duncan, Gary Snyder), and work by the Beats (Allan Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac). Guest speakers. MA / PhD level; oral presentation, final research essay.

GREENING SWEDENBORG (HSRA-3783)
Dr. Devin Zuber
(01/29/2024-05/17/2024)
Tuesday 2:10-5pm
This course examines Swedenborg’s writings from an environmental perspective, looking for ways that his visionary theology might speak to pressing ecological concerns. We will start with surveying Swedenborg’s theology, while glancing towards some of the earlier science to understand how Swedenborg took parts in 18th conversations around natural theology, Divine beauty, and the (organic) order of nature. Swedenborg’s work will be approached thru various avenues of eco-theology (Rosemary Radford Ruether, Catherine Keller), ecological literary criticism (Timothy Morton), and the “vibrant materialism” of Jane Bennett. We conclude with considering the ways that Swedenborgian theology was read and received by environmental writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Sarah Orne Jewett, and his contribution to the emergence of a modern environmental imaginary at the end of the 19th century. Audience: MDiv, MA/MTS

GOD OF THE OLD TESTAMENT: THE HISTORY OF AN IDEA (BSHS-4600)
Dr. Rebecca Esterson
(01/29/2024-05/17/2024)
Monday 9:40am-12:30pm
This seminar-style course will explore and analyze the history of Christian conceptions of the God of the Old Testament. Throughout history, this discourse has frequently overlooked the complexity and diversity of views concerning God expressed in the Hebrew Bible, highlighting instead biblical material that depicts God, for instance, as angry, vindictive, or authoritarian in nature. Sometimes this picture is contrasted with the God of the New Testament, such as we find in Marcionite strands beginning in the second century. The discourse concerning the God of the Old Testament played a significant role in Western thought and culture, as it does still today. We will examine textual and artistic material from a range of periods, considering the kind of God imagined in these sources and their impact. This will lead us to a reflection on the effect of this history today, in the areas of Jewish-Christian relations, biblical studies, homiletics, feminist and liberation theologies, new atheisms, and popular media. This course is intended for PhD and advanced Masters students and will require in-class presentations and a final thesis paper. Previous coursework in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament strongly recommended.