Wednesday, December 22, 2010

History 111 Book: Pursuit of the Millennium

The book club idea, doing specific topics and allowing students to pick books, proved to be a success even if I still have to work on getting more class participation. So I am going to try it again for my winter quarter 111 class. As before I am going to pick the first book for the class. This time around I am doing Norman Cohn's Pursuit of the Millennium: Revolutionary Millenarians and Mystical Anarchists of the Middle Ages. This book contains enough comedy and tragedy to entertain and its subject matter of religious apocalyptic violence is certainly relevant. I am also interested in further testing my theory about Christianity in the classroom that both Christian and secular students left to their own devices wish to avoid talking about Christianity. Christian students feel under attack by discussions of the religion in a classroom setting and secular students feel no connection. (See Are the Greeks and Romans Just More Popular?) Considering that much of my work deals in the history of religion, if I am going to have I future I am going to need some way around this problem. On a more personal level, this book allows me to teach what I actually study professionally, medieval and early modern messianism. In fact Cohn's work is foundational to my dissertation. In many respects what I am trying to do is apply Pursuit of the Millennium to Jews.     

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