Reformers and Radicals

Dr. Vial Office:  Iliff 109
Winter 2019 Phone: 303-765-3166
Office Hours:  by appointment E-mail:

Course Description

Description:  This course studies the intellectual foundations of Protestantism, as well as the Catholic Reformation and the Radical Reformation, with special attention to the ritual practices of the various Christian churches in the 16 th century.  This will allow us to move beyond strictly theological debates to the lived religious experiences of Christians in Europe.  We will place theological debates in their social and historical contexts.

Course Goals

  1. read some great books
  2. gain a firm grasp of the major theological positions of the Protestant reformers, as well s their Roman Catholic and Radical opponents
  3. continue developing the skills of critical reading, writing, and thinking

Each student will prepare 3 papers of 3 pages each.  You will choose which three readings you will write about in the Paper Sign up assignment.  Papers will be posted by Monday at midnight.  All students will post a one-paragraph response to the paper and/or reading by Wednesday at midnight.  All students will read all postings and post an additional one paragraph reflection or comment by Friday at midnight.  Each paper is worth 25% of your grade, and the quality of your postings over the quarter is worth 10% of your grade, and your background posting is worth 15% of your grade. Late postings will not be accepted.  Students presenting on the readings that are on the syllabus for our gathering days sessions should bring 2 copies of their papers to class and be prepared to read them as a way of initiating discussion.

Papers will be graded according to the following 4 criteria:

  1. A clearly stated claim;
  2. Textual evidence to support the claim;
  3. Quality of writing (organization, proper use of sentences and paragraphs, grammar, spelling, and all other mechanics);
  4. Depth and seriousness of analysis. 

In a short paper the claim typically appears as the last sentence of the introductory paragraph (if it is not there the writer needs clearly to mark where it is, since otherwise readers will assume that sentence is the claim).  A claim states the conclusion of the argument put forward in the paper.  You have a great deal of freedom here.  A claim might state what is the most important idea in the reading, or what the author must assume to make his or her argument, or what the logical extension of that argument might be, or how that argument relates to other readings on our syllabus, or what the author gets right or wrong, etc.   In a short paper you will likely not be able to summarize the all the points the author makes, nor should you try.  Part of your task of analysis is to prioritize what is most important to lift up for discussion for our class.  Your paper will likely not follow the same organization as the reading under analysis, since the logic of your argument will not be the same as the logic of the argument of the reading.  If your paragraphs tend to begin “And then . . .;  Next . . .” then it is probably time to go back and do at least one more draft and re-think what you are presenting and how.  Papers for this class are a little closer to the summary end of the spectrum than a term paper might be, since they are the basis for our discussion.  But they are still papers that make engage the text by making a point about the text.

The purpose of the papers is three-fold: the first is to encourage deep engagement with the texts; the second is to encourage a habit of discussion that is open, respectful, and rigorous.  This is best accomplished when the analytical essays take a charitable stance towards the readings.  Some of them will seem old-fashioned, and the writers may have different concerns than do we.  As in any good conversation, it is important first to try to see where the writer is coming from, rather than to be dismissive of his or her ideas.  There will be plenty of time later to decide what is useful to you and what is not.   We must begin with an accurate understanding of what is actually going on in the essay.  Third, these section papers will help develop your skills as readers and writers.  A great number of studies show that “peer-review” is a very effective way to teach writing.  The feedback you get on these papers during discussion will be quite valuable.

Papers will be graded on the following scale:

4 = A
3 = B
2 = C
1 = D
0 = F

Throughout the quarter, we will have several discussions which will compose a large part of our engagement with each other in this online learning space. For these discussions to be meaningful conversation spaces, we all need to take responsibility for consistent and substantial participation. Over the course of a conversation, substantial engagement means:

  1. Extend the conversation - creatively and critically push the conversation forward, do not just regurgitate what has already been said. If 1 or 2 other students have already responded directly to a point raised in a student paper, do not simply write another response to that point unless it adds something new to the conversation. You need to extend the conversation by adding an additional or different insight from the course materials, by asking a new question that stems from one of the posts already offered, by offering a related and contextualized example of the issue being discussed from your own experience, or by creatively integrating your own perspective with what has already been posted. 
  2. Ask contextualized questions - situate your questions within the discussion by referencing the course materials and other parts of the conversation thread that inform your inquiry. Give us a little background as to why this question matters to you and how it relates to the course.
  3. Engage others in the course - thoughtful engagement with other students in the course and with the instructional team. 
  4. Engage the course materials - thoughtful engagement with readings, lectures, student presentations, and any other materials related to the course. Referencing and citing course materials in your posts where appropriate is encouraged. 
  5. Participate Respectfully - discussions in this course are likely to raise sensitive topics. Please strive for respect in all your comments, and charity in reading the comments of others.

Each post need not do all of these things, but your overall participation in each conversation should demonstrate all of these components. You might have several short posts and a handful of longer posts in a week or you might have only a few strategic substantial posts (minimum of 2 posts per discussion). Either way, your overall participation in each conversation will be evaluated for substantial engagement. The goal of this discussion design is to encourage and reward interchange, so post often and engage each other with meaningful questions that open to other questions.

Each student will prepare some background information on one person we are either reading or reading about. These should be posted by Sunday night at midnight on the week you signed up for in the discussion for that topic. They are intended as orientation to help understand the readings--"I've never heard of this person; what do I need to know"? They should be short, accessible, and fun if possible! You may write a paragraph (250 words-ish), post short videos of you talking, or link to clips. Please do not simply link to a webpage that gives background--that is your job! Please keep it to something your classmates can read/watch in 2 or 3 minutes.

Required Books

The following required readings for this course should be purchased:

Steven Ozment, Protestants: The Birth of a Revolution . Image; Reprint edition (October 1, 1993) ISBN-13: 978-0385471015

John Calvin, Calvin’s Institutes Abridged edition , edited Donald McKim. Westminster John Knox Press; (November 1, 2000) ISBN-13: 978-0664222987

Martin Luther, Three Treatises . Fortress Press; 2nd edition (November 1990) ISBN-13: 978-0800616397

Marie Dentiére, Epistle to Marguerite de Navarre and Preface to a Sermon by John Calvin (The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe) University Of Chicago Press (June 5, 2004) ISBN-13: 978-0226142791

Karen Spierling, Infant Baptism in Reformation Geneva: The Shaping of a Community, 1536- 1564 January 27, 2009 Westminster John Knox Press (January 27, 2009) ISBN-13: 978-0664233419

Jan 07, 2019MonWeek 1 Backgroundsdue by 06:59AM
Jan 07, 2019MonSign up for papers and backgroundsdue by 06:59AM
Jan 08, 2019TueWeek 1 Papersdue by 06:59AM
Jan 10, 2019ThuWeek 1 Discussiondue by 06:59AM
Jan 10, 2019ThuPost brief video introduction heredue by 06:59AM
Jan 12, 2019SatWeek 1 Continueddue by 06:59AM
Jan 14, 2019MonWeek 2 Backgroundsdue by 06:59AM
Jan 15, 2019TueWeek 2 Papersdue by 06:59AM
Jan 17, 2019ThuWeek 2 Discussiondue by 06:59AM
Jan 19, 2019SatWeek 2 Continueddue by 06:59AM
Jan 21, 2019MonWeek 3 Backgroundsdue by 06:59AM
Jan 22, 2019TueWeek 3 Papersdue by 06:59AM
Jan 24, 2019ThuWeek 3 Discussiondue by 06:59AM
Jan 24, 2019ThuAdd to theology resource page #1due by 06:59AM
Jan 26, 2019SatWeek 3 Continueddue by 06:59AM
Jan 28, 2019MonWeek 4 Backgroundsdue by 06:59AM
Jan 29, 2019TueWeek 4 Papersdue by 06:59AM
Jan 31, 2019ThuWeek 4 Discussiondue by 06:59AM
Feb 02, 2019SatWeek 4 Continueddue by 06:59AM
Feb 04, 2019MonWeek 5 Backgrounds due by 06:59AM
Feb 05, 2019TueWeek 5 Papers--Gathering Daysdue by 06:59AM
Feb 06, 2019WedWeek 5 Discussion (Gathering Days)due by 06:59AM
Feb 07, 2019ThuWeek 3 Discussion Group 2due by 06:59AM
Feb 07, 2019ThuWeek 5 Continued (Gathering Days)due by 06:59AM
Feb 11, 2019MonWeek 6 Backgroundsdue by 06:59AM
Feb 12, 2019TueWeek 6 Papersdue by 06:59AM
Feb 14, 2019ThuWeek 6 Discussiondue by 06:59AM
Feb 14, 2019ThuAdd to theology resource page #2due by 06:59AM
Feb 16, 2019SatWeek 6 Discussion Continueddue by 06:59AM
Feb 18, 2019MonWeek 7 Backgroundsdue by 06:59AM
Feb 19, 2019TueWeek 7 Papersdue by 06:59AM
Feb 21, 2019ThuWeek 7 Discussiondue by 06:59AM
Feb 23, 2019SatWeek 7 Continueddue by 06:59AM
Feb 25, 2019MonWeek 8 Backgroundsdue by 06:59AM
Feb 26, 2019TueWeek 8 Papersdue by 06:59AM
Feb 28, 2019ThuWeek 8 Discussiondue by 06:59AM
Mar 02, 2019SatWeek 8 Continueddue by 06:59AM
Mar 04, 2019MonWeek 9 Backgroundsdue by 06:59AM
Mar 05, 2019TueWeek 9 Papersdue by 06:59AM
Mar 07, 2019ThuWeek 9 Discussiondue by 06:59AM
Mar 09, 2019SatWeek 9 Continueddue by 06:59AM
Mar 11, 2019MonWeek 10 Backgroundsdue by 05:59AM
Mar 12, 2019TueWeek 10 Papersdue by 05:59AM
Mar 14, 2019ThuWeek 10 Discussiondue by 05:59AM
Mar 16, 2019SatResource page gradedue by 05:59AM
Mar 16, 2019SatWeek 10 Continueddue by 05:59AM
Apr 06, 2019SatBackgroundsdue by 05:59AM
Apr 06, 2019SatParticipationdue by 05:59AM