medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Each semester for the last few years I've been running a reading seminar (level is upper undergrad/MA) on a Christian spiritual text. They've often been from the  early church or medieval period, though not exclusively (last year we did Gregory of Nyssa's Life of Moses and some Dietrich Bonhoeffer). The seminar itself (eleven two-hour meetings) has usually been fairly unstructured, but participation has been excellent. Naturally, there are students who read the whole work and others who do only the assigned readings, but they seem to find me scary and they usually all do at least something and everyone contributes.

Among the most-requested works by students are Augustine's Confessions and the Imitation of Christ. I wonder if anyone has experience or suggestions about teaching these texts, or could direct me to teaching resources that would be helpful.

I feel a bit intimidated by the density of the Confessions and wonder what would be a good way to approach it in bite-size chunks, so to speak, or what other strategy might work with it. I'd be most grateful to anyone who has wisdom to share.

With the Imitation I feel somewhat the opposite: as a whole I find it boring and repetitive, and wonder if it would sustain student interest and discussion over a whole semester. At present I can only think of doing a lot more input about late-medieval religion and spirituality and using the Imitation to illustrate, and perhaps using Sheldrake's Spirituality and History as a basis for critique. But maybe someone can suggest some exciting way to approach it. I would be very grateful. -- Paul

Paul Chandler, O.Carm.
Holy Spirit Seminary  |  PO Box 18 (487 Earnshaw Road)  |  Banyo Qld 4014  |  Australia
office: (07) 3246 9888  |  home: (07) 3246 9894
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