Pilgrims and Seekers: American Spirituality from the Transcendentalists to the Millennials

  • Faculty: Leigh Schmidt
  • Schedule: Tuesdays, 2:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
  • Course Number: L57 RelPol 340

The seminar focuses on the formation of “spirituality” in American culture from the Transcendentalist world of Ralph Waldo Emerson on through more recent expressions of the “spiritual-but-not-religious” sensibility. How did “spirituality” come to be seen as something positively distinct from and better than “organized religion”? What are the main contours of spiritual seeking in American culture? The course also explores the social and political consequences of this turn to the spiritual over the religious: for example, the consecration of liberal individualism, the relationship between religious exploration and consumerism, the negotiation of cultural pluralism, and the prophetic search for social justice.