Our task in this course is to skirt the edges of grander secularization theses and seek to understand more precisely how the categories of materialism and atheism have acquired their historical contents, from early to high modern times. Throughout the course we will cycle between more canonical Anglophone topics and topics touching more directly on Central and East European concerns. While the bulk of the course is devoted to intellectual history, in later sessions we will nonetheless linger on the broader social history of atheism as state religion, first in the Soviet case, and--assuming adequate student interest--further in the East Bloc. Lurking in the background will be the post-positivist historian's constant dilemma: how to account for the various naturalisms that have contributed to humanist interpretations of modernity.
- Teacher: Karl Hall