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HISTORY 335J: The Meaning of Life: Modern European Encounters with Consequential Questions

( History 235J is an undergraduate course offered for 5 units; History 335J is a graduate course offered for 4-5 units.) Across two centuries of social, political, and religious upheaval and transformation, modern Europeans confronted a series of interconnected ¿big questions¿: What is humanity¿s relationship with deity? Where does life, including human life, come from, and where is it going? What considerations should shape human beings¿ relationships with, and actions toward, one another? What is socially and morally acceptable¿or transgressive? Is there life after death, and a spiritual realm distinct from the material world? Through case studies in the history of religion, evolutionary thought, gender and sexuality, and the aims and ends of empire, this course will examine European engagement with these questions across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (with some background in earlier periods), paying attention to the ways in which the questions people asked¿and the conclusions they drew¿were shaped by social, religious, and political institutions and structures.
Terms: Aut | Units: 4-5
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