When and how did we become modern? Many twentieth- and twenty-first century thinkers have identified an "age of reform," roughly 1350-1600, as the birthplace of modernity. Many of these accounts are declension narratives that locate the origins of modernity’s ills in late-medieval and Reformation-era intellectual developments. This seminar will re-examine several influential declension narratives and explore alternative possibilities from within the relevant disciplines: philosophy, led by Thomas Ward (Loyola Marymount University); theology (led by Chris Hackett, Australian Catholic University), art history (led by Christopher Nygren, University of Pittsburgh), and the intersection of biblical and literary studies (led by Ryan McDermott, University of Pittsburgh)—with intellectual, social, and religious history as continual interlocutors (led by Carlos Eire, Yale University).
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