Honors | Gender in the Reformation (HON)
H303 | 26436 | Constance Furey

TuTh 9:30-10:45am

In a famous article, Joan Scott argued that gender is a useful
category of historical analysis. But how does gender help us analyze
religion? What is the relevance of gender for understanding
religions that teach spiritual equality, for example? Or how is
gender useful for understanding religious teachings about how
certain religious practices transform an adherent’s sexual identity?
Considering Christianity in particular, how should we understand the
significance of gender in light of the injunction “neither Jew nor
Greek, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, for you are
all one in Jesus Christ” (Gal 3.28)? In this course we will consider
these questions by focusing on the sixteenth century, when new
claims about sex and gender fueled the intensity of the Protestant
Reformation and debates among and between Catholics and Protestants.
In the midst of chaotic religious change, women who claimed to speak
for God were hailed and condemned. Reformers mocked the religious
valorization of virginity and celibacy and yet also celebrated a
Virgin Queen’s rule over England. Mystical claims of gender-bending
or androgyny or homoeroticism became suspect even as Catholic and
Protestant writers alike continued to exploit the spiritual
ambiguity of a gendered identity. And in small but violent outbreaks
throughout Europe, people fearful of witches tortured and destroyed
women’s bodies. This exploration of the gender of prophecy,
celibacy, sex, and witchcraft should give you specific examples to
think with as you consider the question about how a focus on gender
might influence your vision of religion. Participants will be
required to do discussion questions, several short (1-2 page)
writing assignments; and a final paper (5-7 pages).

The following books are available at the bookstores and on reserve.
All other readings are on ereserve [password: reputation] unless
otherwise noted.
Susanne Woods, ed., The Poems of Aemilia Lanyer: Salve Deus Rex
Judaeorum (1993)
Rambuss, Richard, Closet Devotions, Duke University Press (1998)
Roper, Lyndal, Witch Craze: Terror and Fantasy in Baroque Germany
Strasser, Ulrike, State of Virginity: Gender, Religion, and Politics
in the Early Modern German State (2006)
Recommended: John Donne, Complete Poetry and Selected Prose of John
Donne (2001)