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Book Details

  • Paperback
  • Bookstore's Wholesale Price: $28.84
  • January 2014
  • ISBN: 978-0-393-93734-3
  • Territory Rights: Worldwide

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The Trial of Galileo

Aristotelianism, the "New Cosmology," and the Catholic Church, 1616-1633

Reacting to the Past

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Michael S. Petterson (Author, Washington and Jefferson College), Frederick Purnell, Jr. (Author, Queens College), Mark C. Carnes (Author, Barnard College)

 

Part of the Reacting to the Past series, The Trial of Galileo brings the Scientific Revolution to life by sparking debate on issues of science and religion.

In The Trial of Galileo the new science, as brilliantly propounded by Galileo Galilei, collides with the elegant cosmology of Aristotle, Aquinas, and medieval Scholasticism. The game is set in Rome in the early decades of the seventeenth century. Most of the debates occur within the Holy Office, the arm of the papacy that supervises the Roman Inquisition. At times action shifts to the palace of Prince Cesi, founder of the Society of the Lynx-Eyed, which promotes the new science, and to the lecture halls of the Jesuit Collegio Romano. Some students assume roles as faculty of the Collegio Romano and the secular University of Rome, the Sapienza. Others are Cardinals who seek to defend the faith from resurgent Protestantism, the imperial ambitions of the Spanish monarch, the schemes of the Medici in Florence, and the crisis of faith throughout Christendom. Some embrace the “new cosmology,” some denounce it, and still others are undecided. The issues range from the nature of faith and the meaning of the Bible to the scientific principles and methods as advanced by Copernicus, Kepler, Tycho Brahe, Giordano Bruno, and Galileo. Central texts include Aristotle’s On the Heavens and Posterior Analytics; Galileo’s Starry Messenger (1610), Letter to Grand Duchess Christina (1615) and Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems (1632); the declarations of the Council of Trent; and the Bible.

Reacting to the Past is a series of historical role-playing games that explore important ideas by re-creating the contexts that shaped them. Students are assigned roles, informed by classic texts, set in particular moments of intellectual and social ferment.

An award-winning active-learning pedagogy, Reacting to the Past improves speaking, writing, and leadership skills, promotes engagement with classic texts and history, and builds learning communities. Reacting can be used across the curriculum, from the first-year general education class to “capstone” experiences. A Reacting game can also function as the discussion component of lecture classes, or it can be enlisted for intersession courses, honors programs, and other specialized curricular purposes.

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Endorsements & Reviews

Reacting to the Past is the most absorbing and engaging teaching I have ever done. . . . Students engage each other with a passion I have rarely seen in a classroom.” — Elizabeth Robertson, Drake University

“Combines the student instinct for competitive gaming with the academic values of critical thinking and persuasive speaking.” — Craig Caldwell, Appalachian State University

“It is one of the best ways I know of engaging students in great books and significant moments in history.” — Larry Carver, University of Texas at Austin

Student-led classroom

Reacting to the Past is the perfect solution to a “flipped” classroom experience: students take charge of their own learning by assuming roles in a moment of historical crisis.  

History comes alive

Reacting to the Past games do not have a fixed script and outcome. While students must adhere to the beliefs and worldview of the historical figures they have been assigned to play, they must devise their own means of expressing those ideas persuasively in speeches or other public presentations. For these assignments they draw on the rich selection of primary sources in the student game manual.  

A proven pedagogy

By playing games in the Reacting to the Past series, students develop speaking, writing, critical-thinking, problem-solving, leadership, and teamwork skills. For its innovative approach to teaching and learning, Reacting to the Past has been supported by organizations like the Teagle Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education. 

The Reacting Consortium

Reacting to the Past was developed under the auspices of Barnard College, which hosts an annual institute where interested faculty can learn more about the series by playing condensed versions of the games. To learn more about the annual faculty institute and other events near you, go to the Conferences and Events page. 

    Introduction: A Walk to the University
    The Historical Context
    The Cast of Characters
    Key Elements of the Game
    Phases of the Game
    Class Assignments and Activities

    Appendix A: Introduction to Astronomy from Aristotle to Copernicus
    Appendix B: Aristotle, On the Heavens and Posterior Analytics
    Appendix C: Decrees by the Council of Trent Concerning Heresy
    Appendix D: Galileo, The Starry Messenger (1610)
    Appendix E: Galileo, “Letter to Grand Duchess Christina” (1615)
    Appendix F: Galileo, Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems (1632)
    Appendix G: Laboratory Exercises
    Appendix H: Bibliographical References