History | W300 2731 Holy Wars:Last Millen. 9:30-10:45A TR BH247 Nordstrom/Stricker
W300 | 2731 | Nordstrom J/stricker R
Topic: God Against God. "Holy" Wars in the Millennium
Above section open to undergraduates only
A portion of the above section reserved for majors.
God Against God: "Holy" Wars in the Last Millennium
Prerequisites: There is no expectation of previous course work or historical
This course seeks to explore how religious ideologies and beliefs have
shaped global conflict over the past one thousand years. The course has
three primary and interrelated goals. First, we hope to illustrate how
religion has been used as a means of identifying members and outsiders in a
particular society and, therefore, how wars that seem to be fought for
purely secular reasons often have religious motivations as well.
Conversely, we will investigate how religious rhetoric and imagery overlay
conflicts that are primarily fought for political, economic or social goals.
Finally, we will demonstrate how "holy" wars have served as sites of both
conflict and exchange between different societies, since they serve to bring
together groups that are normally divided by geographical and cultural
To familiarize themselves with these dimensions of "holy" wars, students
will draw from a broad range of documents, including letters, diaries,
mythological stories, sacred texts and missionary reports, as well as
background texts. Readings and class discussions will be divided into three
(roughly chronological) units. (1) We will examine the role of religious
conflict in the Medieval world, focusing on Europe's various "crusades"
against Muslim armies in the Near East. We will go on to explore how Europe
was transformed by the subsequent uprisings brought about by the Protestant
Reformation. In this unit we will also examine how religion served as a
means of support and conflict in caste-based societies in Asia. (2) We will
address the role of "holy" wars in shaping Europe's drive for empire from
the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries. We will pay particular attention to
how different religious views were used to justify colonization and slavery,
as well as how non-Europeans used their own religious views to respond to
and combat European settlers. (3) We will focus on "holy" wars in our own
time, emphasizing contemporary conflicts in Northern Ireland, Iran, India
There will be two exams during the semester as well as a cumulative final.
Students must also complete a research paper that provides them with the
opportunity to elaborate on specific themes of the course and to pursue a
subject of their own choosing in greater detail. This course will be team
taught and students with questions should contact the instructors by email
at email@example.com or