Religion and the Arts in Western Culture – CSTU 310

CG • Section 8WK • 11/08/2019 to 04/16/2020 • Modified 04/07/2022

Course Description

This course explores the web of relationships between religion and the arts throughout the history of Western culture, from biblical times into the postmodern era. Major topics will include: the mutual influences of religion and the arts on each other, how philosophers and theologians have understood the nature of beauty, the place of the visual and performing arts in contemporary Christian faith and practice, and how the arts are an integral component of a biblical worldview.

For information regarding prerequisites for this course, please refer to the Academic Course Catalog.


Historically, the arts have both influenced and been influenced by the prominent religions in their culture. In particular, ideas about beauty, whether openly stated or quietly assumed, have shaped the prevailing understanding of the arts in both the Church and Western culture from the ancient world through the postmodern age. As an integrative studies course, CSTU 310 encourages students from a variety of disciplines to deepen their understanding of the nature of beauty as grounded in the nature of God and to investigate ways in which Christians can reach out to the culture through the arts.

Measurable Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Analyze significant factors in the relationship between art and religion in the various eras of Western culture.
  2. Compare major works of religious art in Western culture.
  3. Identify key concepts in the relevant writings of selected theologians and philosophers.
  4. Evaluate Western art through the lens of a biblical worldview.

General Education Foundational Skill Learning Outcomes

Civic and Global Engagement

Identify the main features of a worldview, assessing the cultural, political, economic, and industrial implications.

Relate government and/or culture to various aspects of life.

Apply the Christian principles and general practices for effectively engaging people from different social and/or cultural backgrounds.

Relate the human experience within various civic and global structures to participation in the redemptive work of God

Critical Thinking

Compare and contrast the biblical worldview with a non-biblical worldview, evaluating the influence of assumptions and contexts on ethics and values.

Communication and Information Literacy

Analyze and assess various forms of information and expression to determine their meaning, employing technology when relevant.

Course Assignment

Textbook readings and presentations

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in the Course Overview.

Discussions (2)

Discussions are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the student is required to provide a thread in response to the provided prompt for each forum. Each thread must be 450–500 words and demonstrate course-related knowledge. In addition to the thread, the student is required to reply to 2 other classmates’ threads. Each reply must be 100–150 words.

Writing Assignments (4)

The student will write 4 papers in current Turabian format focusing on the given topics. Writing Assignment 1 must be at least 700–800 words. Writing Assignments 2–4 must be at least 900–1,100 words.

Quizzes (2)

Each quiz will cover the Learn material for the assigned Module(s). Each quiz will be open-book/open-notes, contain 30 multiple-choice and true-false questions and have a 1-hour time limit.