The Catholic Imagination (CTH 301)

Leroy HuizengaTeaching6 Comments

Basic Info:

The Catholic Imagination (CTH 301) explores the theological, aesthetic, and cultural significance of Catholicism’s sacramental vision of the world and of the human person. Primary attention given to the nature of human imagination and to works of the imagination such as literature, art, and architecture. Required advanced course for the University of Mary’s Catholic Studies major; advanced elective for Catholic Studies minor; core elective in “Humanities”. Online, eight weeks, beginning August 27. 4 credits.

As this is an online course of 8 weeks covering material presented over a full semester in a traditional format, students must be self-motivated.

My Approach:

Catholicism is not a mere religion of made-up do’s and dont’s, but rather a way of looking at the world that sees God, man, and nature in glorious harmony, even as that harmony has been impaired by the Fall. The Catholic imagination, then, draws upon the profound riches of its knowledge of God, man, and nature to express in art and worship the glories of each in and of themselves and in relationship as well as the horrors of the disharmony produced by the Fall. Far from fleeing culture, Catholicism values culture, creates culture, and indeed is a culture rooted in Goodness, Beauty, and Truth, and expresses itself through the various arts.

Thus, while reflecting on what it means to be a human pursuing happiness in a technological age, we will look at some of the best of Catholic literature as we read Flannery O’Connor’s short stories and Gerald Manley Hopkins’ poetry. We will reflect on positive theories of art. And we will spend significant time thinking about liturgical art and architecture, as the Catholic imagination finds its highest expressing in worship.


Guardini, Romano. Letters from Lake Como. Translated by Geoffrey W. Bromiley. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1994. ISBN: 9780802801081 [Also available on Kindle.]

Hopkins, Gerard Manley. Gerard Manley Hopkins: The Major Works. Edited with an introduction and notes by Catherine Phillips. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. ISBN: 9780199538850

McNamara, Denis R. Catholic Church Architecture and the Spirit of the Liturgy. Chicago, IL: Liturgy Training Publications/Hillenbrand Books, 2009. ISBN: 9781595250278

O’Connor, Flannery. Flannery O’Connor: The Complete Stories. New York: Noonday Press/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1971. ISBN: 9780374515362

O’Connor, Flannery. Mystery and Manners. Occasional prose, selected and edited by Sally and Robert Fitzgerald. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1969. ISBN: 9780374508043

Pieper, Josef. Happiness and Contemplation. Translated by Richard and Clara Winston. South Bend, IN: St. Augustine’s Press, 1998. ISBN: 9781890318307

Pieper, Josef. Only the Lover Sings: Art and Contemplation. Translated by Lothar Krauth. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1990. ISBN: 9780898703023

Taylor, Joshua C. Learning to Look: A Handbook for the Visual Arts. Second Edition. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1981. ISBN: 0226791548


Assignments include significant writing designed to encourage interaction with the material and the development of the liberal arts skills in reasoning and rhetoric as well as online discussion. Students will also have the opportunity to engage in creative endeavors.

More Info:

Contact Dr. Huizenga or Pattie McWilliams at U-Mary’s CADE.

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