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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Divinity : Religious Studies

Undergraduate Course: History and Sociology of Spiritualism (REST10042)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Divinity CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Course typeStandard AvailabilityAvailable to all students
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) Credits20
Home subject areaReligious Studies Other subject areaNone
Course website None Taught in Gaelic?No
Course descriptionIt has been proposed that a key element in the 'basic form' of religion is engagement with the 'non-empirical' (Stringer, 2008), defined as engagement with phenomena that cannot be verified or interpreted by generally-accepted scientific methodologies. Spiritualism is an example of a religious tradition whose adherents claim it as a rational exploration of experienced phenomena, and therefore a form of engagement with the empirical. The course examines both the academic attempt to comprehend this perspective, as expressed within this particular tradition, and the ways in which Spiritualist self-identity is shaped in relationship with the broader discourse of western modernity within which it subsists.

This course will address these issues by focusing on the historical context of Spiritualism (both as to time period and geography), and its interaction with the magical-enchanted, religious and scientific-rational discourses within modern Anglo-American culture.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites It is RECOMMENDED that students have passed Religion 1A: Religion in the Contemporary World: Judaism, Christianity and Islam (REST08006) AND Religion 1B: Religion in the Contemporary World: Indigenous Religions and the Religions of Asia (REST08005) AND Religion 2A: Making Sense of Religion: Phenomenological, Historical and Cultural Approaches to the Study of Religion (REST08008) AND Religion 2B: Religion and Society: Social Scientific Approaches to the Study of Religions (REST08007)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesBy permission of the Course Manager
Displayed in Visiting Students Prospectus?No
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Summary of Intended Learning Outcomes
The intended learning outcomes are as follows:
1. Understanding of the content and structure of a key (but under-examined) popular religious movement expressive of Anglo-American culture, and of the ways in which that movement expresses and responds to wider social trends within western modernity.
2. Knowledge of the classic debate around western modernity as characterized by a posited line of development from magical, through religious, to scientific discourses; together with an awareness of the extent to which contemporary scholarship sees these perspectives as persisting, and the model itself as contested.
3. Awareness of some of the academic methods and models used in the study of religion, and the ability to apply those methods and models to a particular religious tradition; the ability to cope with resulting difficulties, including re-examining the methods and models being used.
4. Engagement with wider scholarly debates within the study of religions; especially the merits and/or demerits of emic and etic perspectives, debates over appropriate methodologies, and the continuing influence (and difficulties with) the 'world religions' paradigm.
5. A critical understanding of debates on mediumship in the context of shamanic studies and possession studies; an understanding as to why shamanism has been a dominant model in English-speaking North-American scholarship on Spiritualist mediumship, in contrast to the tendency in British scholarship to make use of a possession model; critical engagement with the claimed differences between these models.
Assessment Information
Presentation (5%) and participation in class (5%).
Course work: students are required to write one essay of 2,000 words (30%).
End of semester examination - 2 hours, 3 questions to be answered (60%).
Special Arrangements
Additional Information
Academic description Not entered
Syllabus Not entered
Transferable skills Not entered
Reading list Not entered
Study Abroad Not entered
Study Pattern Not entered
Course organiserDr Hannah Holtschneider
Tel: (0131 6)50 8933
Course secretaryMs Paula Kruyff
Tel: (0131 6)5
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