Course Memo

This seminar explores religious conversion in its intersection with the arts, with a particular focus on encounters with non-Christian
religions (Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism) during the 19th century. From Paul to St. Augustine, conversion’s deep roots in Judeo-Christian
imaginaries were amplified by the theological aftermath of the Protestant reformation, and later made central to the modern study of
comparative religions by figures such as William James. But conversion also functions as a way to (re)read the modern dynamics between
religion and the arts, the movement of theology into literature and painting. Readings will include H.D. Thoreau, Henry James, George
Eliot, and Harriet Jacobs; visual arts will include early Abstract painters involved in Theosophy (Hilma af Klint, Piet Mondrian), and Ivan
Agueli, Sweden’s first convert to Islam and pioneering modernist. Due to COVID-19, this course will be held in a hybrid format. [Auditors with faculty permission]