Spanish Mystics & Reformers

Spanish Mystics & Reformers:

(IST 3111; 4 Credits; HI-Depth Course)

Fall Term 2018: Monday September 10th to Friday November 16th

On-Campus Class Sessions:

Friday Oct. 12th, 1-5 PM; and Saturday Oct. 13th, 8 AM-Noon.

Instructor: Albert Hernández, Ph.D.


Course Description/Synopsis:

Early modern Spain witnessed the emergence of Catholic and Protestant individuals whose timeless works and popular appeal in subsequent centuries rested largely upon the practice of "contemplation in action." This course examines the historical context and works of such mystics and reformers as Teresa of Ávila, John of the Cross, Ignatius of Loyola, Juan de Valdés, Constantino Ponce de la Fuente, Cipriano de Valera, Casiodoro de Reina, Antonio del Corro, and others. It also explores the influence of Islam and Judaism on these sixteenth century religious movements, as well as modern Spain's subsequent rejection of this pluralistic legacy as the young nation-state sought to define its new national identity and consolidate power across Europe and its vast colonial territories in the Western Hemisphere.

(1) Students will develop systematic research skills related to the religious history of the period covered in this course, and to the broader outlines of the history of Christianity.

(2) Students will develop an understanding of the similarities and differences which shaped the Protestant Reformation and the Roman Catholic Reformation movements in the historical and literary contexts of  sixteenth century Spain as well as in the contexts of Spanish colonialism in the Western Hemisphere regions of Latin America and the Southwestern U.S. 

(3) Students will learn about the contemplative prayer practices of the historical figures covered in the course, and about the mystical theologies of the visionary writers covered in the course.

(4) Students will cultivate critical skills for analyzing primary source documents dealing with religious pluralism and the treatment of persons identified with the converso, morisco, and/or marrano sectors of Spanish society during the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries. 

(5) Students will develop an understanding of the role of historical revisionism, literary canon, national identity and the adoption of a national language in the formation of modern nation-states’ economies of power, as well as definitions of difference across categories of race, gender, class, and religious affiliation.  

DEGREE LEARNING GOALS in HISTORY (For all I.S.T. Master’s Degree Programs)

Historical Development and Expressions of Religious Traditions (HI): Demonstrate awareness of religious traditions as historically-situated movements that interacted and changed in relationship to their surrounding cultures and subcultures over time, resulting in various expressions located within and influenced by social structures and institutions, ideologies, historical events, ethnicity and gender, and cultural worldviews.

Required Course Textbooks and Readings:

Teresa of Avila, The Interior Castle (1588).  [Any edition or format is OK for our purposes in this course, --with the exception of the Mirabai Starr translation, which makes too many incorrect word usages and translations against the original Spanish text. The translations by E. Allison Peers (see: Interior Castle. Dover Thrift Editions, 2007) and Kieran Kavanaugh (see: The Interior Castle: Study Edition. I.C.S. Publications, 2010) are each considered the very best translations for college-level student readers and scholarly researchers alike].

Bernard McGinn, Mysticism in the Golden Age of Spain, 1500-1650. Volume VI, Part 2 of the series, The Presence of God: A History of Western Christian Mysticism. Crossroad Publishing Company, 2017. [ISBN: 978-0-8245-0090-0].

Additional required readings, from primary and secondary sources, will be made available to students under the "Files" tab of our Canvas course site, and will be listed on the "Course Summary" section of the syllabus for each respective week of the course with full author, title, and page number information as well as any relevant external links from each source or for each excerpt.

Suggested Additional Reading: ---(Optional texts; Not required to purchase)---

Brian A. Catlos, Kingdoms of Faith: A New History of Islamic Spain. Basic Books/Hachette Books, 2018.

Robert Goodwin, Spain, the Centre of the World, 1519-1682. Bloomsbury Press, 2015.

Kevin Madigan, Medieval Christianity: A New History . Yale University Press, 2015.

Carlos Eire, Reformations: The Early Modern World, 1450-1650. Yale University Press, 2016.

William Meninger, Saint John of the Cross for Beginners. Lantern Books, 2014.


Accessing and Regularly Checking the Canvas Course Site:

Guidelines for Class/Group Discussions:

Mandatory Attendance:

Writing Lab:

Grammar and organization are important for all written assignments.  Additional help is available from the Iliff Writing Lab (Links to an external site.) , which is available for students of any level who need help beginning an assignment, organizing thoughts, or reviewing a final draft.

Academic Integrity and Core Values:

All students are expected to abide by Iliff’s statement on Academic Integrity , as published in the Masters Student Handbook (Links to an external site. ) , or the Joint PhD Statement on Academic Honesty, as published in the Joint PhD Student Handbook (Links to an external site.) , as appropriate.  All participants in this class are expected to be familiar with Iliff’s Core Values (Links to an external site.) .

Incomplete Grades:

Additional Policies & Services:

For information about A.D.A. Accommodations , or for information about additional Iliff School of Theology "Policies & Services" go to this tab/section of our Canvas course page or go there by clicking on this Link.



Each student will participate in and complete four separate on-line class discussions about different topics/themes selected by the instructor. In order to earn full-credit on each of the Group Discussion Assignments, each student must log-on and post responses two separate times to each discussion topic/theme by the respective deadline. Posting a late initial response to the week's discussion topic will result in a point deduction for that week's Group Discussion Forum.  

Students will be expected to have read the assigned textbook sections, and the assigned primary or secondary source readings for each respective discussion topic/theme, and to have viewed the week’s recorded lecture(s) before participating in the respective class discussion assignment posted on Canvas. For further details see the Guidelines for Class/Group Discussion under the "Course Procedures & Expectations" section of the syllabus.


In addition to the mandatory attendance requirement at the on-campus/residential portions of the course on Friday October 12th and on Saturday October 13th, 2018, students will receive 10 percent of their final grade for Class Participation during the class lectures, discussions, and activities held on-campus. Effective Class Participation during these two on-campus/residential class sessions means that each student will come to class prepared for reflective, positive discussion with peers and with the instructor by having read all of the assigned materials, and by being fully engaged in the seminar setting of the class.

MID-TERM ASSIGNMENT - Brief Proposal of Final Research or Reflection Paper: 10%

Each student will write a minimum 2-page double-spaced summative proposal of her/his final Reflection Paper or Final Research Paper. State your proposed paper’s thesis and/or topic then provide a summary of what you plan to work on, and explain why you chose this particular topic/theme. You must also provide a preliminary bibliography (BBL) of your proposed topic/theme. Four to eight primary or secondary sources from books, articles, and reputable websites is fine for this “preliminary” BBL. DUE DATE: Week Six of the course via email attachment to Prof. Hernandez--- by 11:59 PM (CMT) on Saturday October 20th, 2018.

FINAL PAPER ASSIGNMENT: 40%:   Each student will write a final paper of no more than seven to ten pages in length on a topic of her/his choosing covered in this history course. These final papers may take the form of a Reflection Paper providing a summary or synopsis of your chosen topic followed by theological and historical reflection on the topic/theme, and its relevancy to your area of ministerial, professional, or academic interest. In other words, a reflective essay on some aspect of mysticism, reformism/revitalization, or the context of early-modern Spanish religious history.  On the other hand, you may prefer to write a more traditional Research Paper on a topic/theme of your choosing with a historical and theological focus on a topic/theme covered during the course. DUE DATE: Wednesday evening November 21st, 2018 by 11:59 PM (CMT) and submitted via email to the instructor as an attachment. 



Sep 12, 2018WedWelcome Message and Course Overview Videosdue by 05:59AM
Sep 15, 2018SatWeek One - Intro to the Religious History of Late-Medieval & Early-Modern Spain (ca. 1200 to ca. 1600)due by 05:59AM
Sep 21, 2018FriWeek Two - What is Christian Mysticism and What is Christian Reformism? Also Group Discussion Forum #-1 Due This Week.due by 05:59AM
Sep 22, 2018SatWeek Two: Group Discussion on the Doctrine/Concept of the "Imago Dei" and its Relationship to Human Dignity and Social Justice Concerns due by 05:59AM
Sep 24, 2018MonWeek Two Discussion: ---Continued---due by 05:59AM
Sep 29, 2018SatWeek Three: Alumbradismo and Mystical Heresy in Early-Modern Spaindue by 05:59AM
Oct 05, 2018FriWeek Four: The Lutheran Reformation & The Spread of Protestantism across Early-Modern Spain. Also Group Discussion Forum #-2 Due This Week. due by 05:59AM
Oct 07, 2018SunWeek Four: Group Discussion Forum #-2--Reflecting on the Historic Tensions Between Religious Experience and Religious Authoritydue by 05:59AM
Oct 08, 2018MonWeek Four Discussion: ---Continued---due by 05:59AM
Oct 12, 2018FriWeek Five: On-Campus Class Sessions - Friday October 12, 2018: 1 PM-5 PM, and Saturday Oct. 13, 2018; 8 AM-Noon. Classroom Location: Bacon Rm. #-218due by 07:00PM
Oct 20, 2018SatWeek Six: Group Discussion Forum #-3: Reflecting with Teresa of Avila on "The Interior Castle." Also, due this week: ---Proposals for Final Research Papers or Final Reflection Papers. BOTH ASSIGNMENTS DUE BY SATURDAY OCTOBER 20TH AT 11:59 pm (CMT)due by 05:59AM
Oct 21, 2018SunWeek Six: Group Discussion Forum #-3: Reflecting with Teresa of Avila on "The Interior Castle."due by 05:59AM
Oct 22, 2018MonWeek Six Discussion: ---Continued---due by 05:59AM
Oct 29, 2018MonWeek Seven: Ignatius of Loyola and the Founding of the Jesuitsdue by 05:59AM
Nov 04, 2018SunWeek Eight: John of the Cross as Mystic Poet and Christian Reformer due by 05:59AM
Nov 10, 2018SatWeek Nine: Juan de Valdés, Spanish Protestantism, and Restoring the Divine Image in the Human Heart. Also Group Discussion/Open Forum #-4 Due This Week by Saturday Nov. 11th, 2018.due by 06:59AM
Nov 11, 2018SunWeek Nine: Group Discussion/Open Forum #-4: What Have We Learned Thus Far....?due by 06:59AM
Nov 12, 2018MonWeek Nine Discussion: --Continued--due by 06:59AM
Nov 22, 2018ThuWeek Ten: No New Content, nor Required Readings, nor Group Discussion Assignments Due This Week. Focus instead on your Final Research Paper or on your Final Reflection Paper. due by 06:59AM