Figures of Renaissance, Reform, and Renewal

Mar 6, 2018
Gavin House
1220 E 58th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
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Willemien OttenUniversity of Chicago Divinity School

David LyonsUniversity of Chicago

Ada PalmerUniversity of Chicago

Fr. Gaspar MartinezFacultad de Teología de Vitoria, Basque Country

Robert PorwollGustavus Adolphus College

Paul Mankowski, SJLumen Christi Institute

Jo WaltonWriter


6:00 Dinner | 6:30 Lecture

Intended for current students and faculty. Others interested in attending: please contact Registrants are free to attend as many sessions as they choose. Sessions do not presuppose previous attendance or prior knowledge of the subject.

The Renaissance era is regarded as the period during which European civilization transitioned from the medieval to the modern. It was an era of reform and renewal in the Catholic Church as well, a time in which traditions and practices were revisited, rethought, and matured. This course will introduce students to the reforms and renewal of Catholic beliefs and culture from the 14th through the 16th century, with particular emphasis on select historical episodes, dynamics, and figures from the theological, philosophical, and spiritual traditions.

January 9
Julian of Norwhich
Willemien Otten (University of Chicago)

January 16
The Western Schism
David Lyons (University of Chicago)

January 23
Christian Humanism
Ada Palmer (University of Chicago)

January 30
Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross
Fr. Gaspar Martinez (University of Chicago)

February 6
Luther, Müntzer, and the German Peasants' Revolt
Robert Porwoll (University of Chicago)

February 13
John Fisher
Fr. Paul Mankowski, SJ (Lumen Christi Institute)

February 20
Jo Walton

February 27
Edmund Campion
Fr. Paul Mankowski, SJ (Lumen Christi Institiute)

March 6
Francis de Sales
David Lyons (University of Chicago)

Willemien Otten is Professor of Theology and the History of Christianity; also in the College; Associate Faculty in the Department of History, Social Sciences Division at the University of Chicago. She holds an M.A. and PhD from the University of Amsterdam. Otten studies the history of Christianity and Christian thought with a focus on the Western medieval and the early Christian intellectual tradition, including the continuity of Platonic themes. She is coeditor of Eriugena and Creation (2014), On Religion and Memory (2013), and the Oxford Guide to the Historical Reception of Augustine (430–2000) (2013). Her most recent book is Thinking Nature and the Nature of Thinking: From Eriugena to Emerson (2020).

David Lyons is Assistant Instructional Professor in the Social Sciences Collegiate Division at the University of Chicago. He studies the history and theory of modernity, receiving his PhD from the University of Chicago in 2017. His work challenges conventional academic accounts of the Enlightenment as a disinterested project for the emancipation and material betterment of humanity and recasts it as a polemical project in securing the social and political hegemony of bourgeois common sense. Born and raised in Toledo, Ohio, David received both an A.B. in History and a J.D. from the University of Michigan. Before coming to Chicago for graduate school Lyons practiced as an attorney in Columbus, Ohio.

Ada Palmer is Assistant Professor of History, Associate Faculty of Classics, and Member of the Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge at the University of Chicago. She holds a PhD in History from Harvard University and a B.A. from Bryn Mawr College. Prof. Palmer specializes in the early modern period, especially the Italian Renaissance and Humanist reception of classical philosophy, but also ancient, medieval and modern intellectual history, and is the author of Reading Lucretius in the Renaissance (Harvard, 2014).

Gaspar Martinez, an alumnus of Chicago's Divinity School, is Professor of Theology at the Facultad de Teología de Vitoria (Basque Country), where he teaches eschatology, spiritual theology, and history of religions, as well as other courses and seminars for graduate students. He is the author of Confronting the Mystery of God: Political, Liberation, and Public Theologies (2003).

Robert Porwoll has taught courses for the University of Chicago Graham School and History Department, and he is currently a visiting professor at Gustavus Adolphus College. His research includes the Christian liberal arts tradition in education, with a specialized focus on the liberal arts in Christian education at schools and at early medieval universities. He studied Historical Theology at Saint Louis University (MA) and the History of Christianity at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago (PhD). His scholarship includes the relationship of faith and reason, religious environmental ethics, Neoplatonic and scholastic thought, and the medieval School of Saint Victor Abbey (Paris). 


Paul Mankowski, SJ, is the Scholar-in-Residence at the Lumen Christi InstituteA native of South Bend, Indiana, and a member of the Society of Jesus, he has an A.B. from the University of Chicago, an M.A. from Oxford, and a PhD in Semitic Philology from Harvard University. He taught for many years at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome and has published in the areas of language, theology, and the biblical text.

Jo Walton has written thirteen novels in the genres of science fiction and fantasy, including Among Others, which won the 2011 Nebula Award for Best Novel and the 2012 Hugo Award for Best Novel. She has also written three books of poetry and a book of essays. Her most recent book, Lent, is a historical fantasy about the 15th century Italian Dominican preacher Savonarola.