Knowledge versus Religion: The Tension in Goethe’s Faust

Faculty Sponsor

Josiah Simon


Arts and Sciences



Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 5-3-2019


The topic of my research project was to investigate the relationship between knowledge and religion in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s drama Faust (1806). In my project, I showed how knowledge and religion are often conflicting forces and questioned in what manner they may be reconciled. I provided historical context to this topic by exploring the contentious role of religion during the enlightenment and through Goethe’s own complicated relationship with religion and Christianity. I then selected key scenes from the drama and analyzed these scenes with regard to the tension between knowledge and religion and its representation in the main characters of Faust and Gretchen. Through my research and close analysis of the text, I concluded that the pursuit of worldly knowledge and leading a religious life are incompatible in Faust.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Sarah Crowe is a senior IECA and German double major. Her primary academic interests include immigration, economics and international studies, but she also has a passion for literature and for the German language and culture. She read Goethe's Faust in her German senior seminar class and grew interested in the topic of knowledge versus religion because of its relevance to Valparaiso University and other liberal arts institutions.

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