Richard Kieckhefer: The Conversion of Constantine, 312 to 2012

Arch of Constantine
Detail, Arch of Constantine, from I vestigi dell’ antichità di Roma, Etienne du Perac, 1575 Wing folio ZP535.D932
Center for Renaissance Studies Programs
Graduate Seminar
Thursday, September 27, 2012 to Thursday, December 6, 2012
(This program continues for multiple sessions)
Thursdays, September 27 - December 6 (class will not meet on November 22)

2 - 5 pm

Room  B-91

Led by Richard Kieckhefer, Northwestern University

One of the most important turning points in the history of Christianity—arguably the most important—was the conversion of Constantine in 312, which led to the toleration of Christianity and an alliance between Church and Empire. The year 2012, the 1700th anniversary of that turning point, is an appropriate time to reexamine both the conversion itself and the multiple ways it has been perceived over the centuries.

This seminar will begin by exploring the main sources for the conversion, the writings of Eusebius and other contemporaries, and will turn then to historical issues that have been raised regarding the motives and the significance of Constantine’s turn to Christianity. We will then explore the impact of the conversion in the political, social, ecclesiastical, theological, liturgical, and artistic worlds of the 4th century. Finally, we will look at the afterlife of the man seen as the first Christian emperor: the Donation of Constantine and legends of Constantine and Sylvester, Constantine as a model for later rulers, the critique of Constantine and imperial Christianity articulated by medieval dissenters and modern Reformers, and the representation of Constantine and his era among modern historians such as Gibbon and Burckhardt.

Participants: John W. McCormack, University of Notre Dame; Anne O’Connor, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; and Jenaba Waggy, Western Michigan University.

Learn more about the instructor: Richard Kieckhefer, Northwestern University

Printable PDF flyer

Cost and registration information: 

Eligibility: Limited enrollment, with priority to students from Center for Renaissance Studies consortium institutions. Students may take this seminar on a not-for-credit basis or arrange to earn credit at their home campuses. When space permits, consortium faculty members are encouraged to audit Newberry seminars, and graduate students from non-consortium schools may also enroll. The course fee is waived for consortium students.

Registration: Complete this online form.

Faculty and graduate students of Center for Renaissance Studies consortium institutions may be eligible to apply for travel fundsto attend CRS programs or to do research at the Newberry. Each member university sets its own policies and deadlines; contact your Representative Council member in advance for details.

Learn more about Center for Renaissance Studies programs for graduate students.

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