This course will chart the rise and early development of the Evangelical Revival, known in the U.S. as “the Great Awakening.” The revival originated in the 1730s and 1740s as a trans-Atlantic network of religious movements that contributed life and drama to the tumultuous 18th century. John and Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, and Jonathan Edwards were some of the movement’s early stars, but there were countless others – men and women, black and white, clergy and laity – whose efforts reshaped the practice of Christianity for centuries to come. Though often linked today with social conservatism, early Evangelicalism inspired countless social reform movements, including attempts to end slavery, raise the status of women, promote literacy, and improve the welfare of the poor. Early Evangelicals also took part in the titanic intellectual battles of the 18th century – clashes between faith and reason, human freedom and divine sovereignty, institutional authority and the individual conscience. In this course we will ponder the complex legacy of the early Evangelicals as we retrace their steps, retell their stories, and rehash their bitter debates. Class sessions will center on the analysis of primary sources from the era, including hymns, sermons, conversion accounts, published journals, and polemical texts.
If you are not enrolled in a degree program but wish to register for this course, use the Online Registration for Special Students and Auditors.