The Catholic University of America


Philip Rousseau's Teaching

General Observations

My graduate seminar courses adhere for the most part to the same pattern.  Those enrolled

  • develop and maintain a personal bibliography, a significant proportion of it annotated in relation to central argument, scholarly dialogue, academic genealogy, and current impact;
  • prepare an oral presentation relative to a developing theme of their choice (within the boundaries of the course), providing them with practice in creating short conference papers;
  • complete a final research paper, which may be entirely fresh or discuss more fully the theme of their oral presentation, providing them with practice in writing journal articles.

Most of these courses range across the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries (reaching roughly from Constantine to the rise of Islam), exploring the social, economic, political, and ideological circumstances in which the gradual Christianization of the later Roman Empire took place, and attempting to define the ways in which a new body politic, a respublica Christiana, was shiftingly conceived and its ideal "citizen" envisaged.


Fall 2017

ECST 715 (graduate seminar course with research paper): "Ascetics and Healing in Late Antiquity."   Instructor: Philip Rousseau TTh 2:10-3:25.  Venue: TBA.

The course will be divided into two major sections.  In the first, we shall examine primary material of the period roughly 300-600 (English translations will be widely available) that describe the engagement of Christian ascetics in the care of the sick.  The course will also allow you to reflect on issues connected with nature, the body, the miraculous, and the providence of God.  In the second section, the focus will be on the Pastoral Care of Pope Gregory the Great (bishop of Rome 590-604), again available in English, examining it less as a handbook on rhetoric and the exercise of religious authority and more as a guide to varying levels of mental and spiritual “health.”  As usual in my courses. you will read material from the period (in whatever languages you can master), create your own secondary reading program, deliver a seminar, and write a research paper of your choice.

Graduate students from any School or Department are warmly invited to enroll; but you should consult your Chair or Director before doing so.  Those in Medieval and Byzantine Studies, Church History, Historical Theology, Greek and Latin, Semitics, History, and Philosophy should in particular find links with their own fields of inquiry, as well as those in Early Christian Studies.


Spring 2018

ECST 650 (graduate seminar course with research paper): "History of Early Christian Thought."  Instructor: Philip Rousseau.  Time and place TBA.

The course, compulsory for "Early Christian Studies" students, is designed to appeal widely to students in any School or Program who are interested in early Christianity, all of whom are warmly welcomed to enroll (although you should consult your Chair or Director before doing so).  When we talk about the "history of early Christian thought," we have in mind particularly the intellectual traditions - both the manner and content of religious reflection - that Christian thinkers inherited and adapted from those that came before them.  This applies most especially to the Jewish and specifically Hebrew/Aramaic traditions that Jesus and his early followers would have drawn upon and modified, but also to what we often refer to as the "classical tradition," for the most part (in those early times) transmitted in Greek. The interaction between the two was an essential force in Christian development.  There were, nevertheless, other religious habits of mind (and practice), not all of them exclusively Jewish or Roman, and not all of them limited to the sphere of Roman hegemony: these also will be open to study.  This course description may be expanded or modified later in 2017, but not drastically, and a syllabus should be available by Christmas.


Remember: I am always available for Directed Reading or Independent Study enrollments.

Check with your Chair or Director before approaching me.