HC 421H: Hildegard of Bingen, 12th-c Female Polymath

Professor: Lisa Wolverton

4.00 credits

  • CRN 22630: Tuesday & Thursday, 1415-1545 @ REMOTE

This course will examine the life and works of Hildegard of Bingen, the twelfth-century abbess and polymath.  Simultaneously an expert in medicine, a visionary teacher of Christian theology, and a composer of original music, she lived all of her life in a convent, serving as its leader.  A woman of incredible personal gifts, she also bore considerable responsibility for others.  Active in the world, not withdrawn from it, Hildegard was widely known in her lifetime, hailed by some, criticized by others.  We therefore study Hildegard’s interior life, intellectual and spiritual, in relation to those she taught, consoled, or chastised. As a history course, the aim will be to study Hildegard’s life and works within their historical context.  But because her output was unquestionably—in modern parlance—interdisciplinary, we will endeavor to consider her theology, music, and scientific interests on their own terms.  Throughout the quarter we will delve deeply into her original writings:  a vast corpus of letters, her visionary treatise (Scivias), the words and music written for liturgical celebration among her nuns as well as a dramatic musical play (Ordo Virtutum), her commentary on the Benedictine rule, and her medicinal and scientific writings on plants, stones, etc. (Physica).