Religious Studies | Mystical Prayer in Western Spirituality
R430 | 4158 | Weaver


This course focuses on Western Christian mysticism as a way to
understand the broad concept of “spirituality.”  We will try to
develop a working definition of mysticism, but I am not as
interested in defining it as I am in looking at some of the great
classical texts that describe it.  Although it is possible to find
mystics in almost any century, we will spend most of our time in
16th century Spain, with side trips to 18th century Russia, 12th
century France, and 14th century England, and small excursions to
Germany and Greece.
Required Texts: R. M. French (trans) The Way of the Pilgrim,
Kavanaugh and Rodriguez, editors, The Collected Works of Teresa of
Avila, volume II, Kavanaugh and Rodriguez, editors, The Collected
Works of St. John of the Cross, Julian of Norwich, Revelations of
Divine Love (edited by Elizabeth Spearing), Bonaventure, The Soul’s
Journey into God, Mary Jo Weaver, editor, Reader for R430 (Excerpts
from Gregory of Nyssa, Bernard of Clairvaux, and others)
Course Requirements:  Full and active participation is required
which means attendance, unfailing preparation, and a willingness to
engage the material in every class. Much of the value of this class
will be in our interaction with one another, so it is imperative
that you read all assignments in advance and think about them before
you come to class.  A significant (8-10 page) term paper on the
mystic of your choice.  You will do with that person what we have
done in class, viz., set up a bit of historical context and then
delve into the text trying to unpack it, understand it, and find
ways to make it accessible to others.  Each student will make a
short presentation on her or his mystic to the class.  Mid-term and
Final examinations will contain some identifications and short essay
questions.