19th Century Roots of UU Prophetic Witness

Session: Spring
Type: Asynchronous, Online
Units: 3
Academic Year: 2024 – 2025
Approval Required: No

This asynchronous online course will locate the roots of Unitarian Universalist Prophetic Witness in nineteenth century social justice concerns: abolition, education, prison reform, utopian communities, suffrage, temperance, humane treatment of animals, civil disobedience, and poverty. We will also explore the nineteenth Unitarian and Universalist influence on Biblical Criticism, literature, philosophy, music, and art. Our course will begin with the Unitarian Controversy at Harvard, against the backdrop of the Second Great Awakening, and explore how theological education influenced Unitarian and Universalist social commitments. We will discuss a variety of attitudes about race and racial justice and find disconcerting inconsistencies and evolving understanding as the arc of the moral universe bends a young nation to engage in Civil War. The heart of this course is Transcendentalism, from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Divinity School Address in 1838 to the death of Margaret Fuller in 1850, and we will finish with the emergence of Humanism at the century’s end. Although our focus is on North America, we will also consider parallel developments in Great Britain and Transylvania. Most of our texts will be found online as our emphasis will be on nineteenth century documents which are out of copyright: philosophy, essays, scriptures, and biographies.

Students will be evaluated through demonstrated preparation, class participation on Populi, class presentations in VoiceThread on Populi and a final paper.

MDiv and MASC students. This course relates to the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Ministerial Fellowship competencies 6. Serves the larger UU faith 7. Leads the faith into the future and the Starr King Thresholds 4. History of Dissenting Traditions and the Thea/ological Quest and 6. Thea/ology in Culture and Context.

Enrollment max: 20. Auditors excluded.