Frankfurt (Oder), Germany

A Cultural History of the Devil

when 3 June 2020 - 18 July 2020
language English
duration 7 weeks
credits 3 EC
fee EUR 1990

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Viadrina Summer Program 2020 has been postponed.

You’ve heard of him – but do you really know who he is? The Devil – also known as Lucifer, Satan or Mephistopheles – is one of the more mysterious figures in Christianity. The idea of a personified Evil can be traced to pre-Christian times and has constantly undergone changes since then. God’s servant, his opponent, a seducer, a magician, an individualistic rebel – throughout history, people have assigned many roles to him. The example of the Devil illustrates vividly that religion and religious concepts are not static but highly dynamic – they reflect the needs and concerns of the society that produces them. Using the Devil as a case study, students will be familiarized with a cultural history of Europe (and beyond). We investigate:
• Zoroastrian and Jewish ideas of Evil as prerequisites for the emergence of the Christian concept of the Devil in Antiquity,
• how the Church Fathers created the Devil we have become so familiar with,
• the role played by Greek and Roman images of the Gods for his visual depiction,
• the emergence of the idea of the Antichrist in the Middle Ages,
• the impact of European expansion to the Americas on the idea of the Devil,
• the nineteenth-century romanticized Devil as a revamped “noble rebel”,
• and of course the Devil’s revival in 20th and 21st century popular culture.

Course leader

Dr. Jutta Wimmler

Target group

Undergraduate Students

Course aim

Students will be familiarized with the major historical developments of the past 2,500 years (with a focus on Europe), will acquire an understanding of the dynamics of religious systems, and will be introduced to the theories and methodologies of historical research. After completing the course, they will
• know where to look for information and how to evaluate the quality of research (difference between academic and non-academic work; importance of academic journals; role of cultural background and interpretation in research)
• have an understanding of how to interpret and evaluate primary sources
• be able to contextualize religious systems and religious concepts historically and culturally.

Credits info

3 EC
6 ECTS-Credits

Fee info

EUR 1990: including two courses, accommodation, lunch on weekdays, transaction costs, transportation within Frankfurt (Oder), extracurricular activities and taxes.
EUR 400: tuition fee - waived for students from partner universities, for a possible exemption from the tuition fee, please contact us via your study abroad office.