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Semester 1

New Spiritualities: from New Age to Holistic (DIVI10039)







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Although this course does not have any pre-requisites, it is designed for students who have studied two full years of Divinity/Religious Studies beforehand. If you have not studied this subject area to that level, it is your responsibility to ensure the course is an appropriate level for you during the first week of teaching, and you must drop this course (before the Course Change Deadline) if you do not have the required background knowledge/skills.

Course Summary

This course investigates the content and structure of selected new spiritualities in Europe and North America, with an emphasis on new age and holistic examples. It combines empirical study with insights from a range of social theorists. The course identifies a fluid field of 'spiritual' beliefs and practices which it locates within the modern history of religion.

Course Description

Academic Description: This course investigates the modern field of popular beliefs and practices known as 'new spiritualities'. It aims to describe, contextualize and explain key features of this field with reference to their content and structure, and to its distribution in the population at large. The course focuses on new age and holistic expressions. It has three overall goals: to explore the theoretical value of studying new spiritualities, to explain their international/transcultural appeal for practitioners, and to critically assess their social, public and political significance in modern societies. Syllabus/Outline Content: We begin with the problem of demarcating a hyper-fluid field of beliefs and practices that crosses traditional boundaries of 'religious' and 'secular'. We examine definitions of 'spirituality', 'holistic' and 'new age' and discuss the grounds of their inclusion within the comparative study of religion/s. We explore the role of authorities and traditions in the development of a culture of seekership spread via networks, small groups and other 'glocal' institutions. We consider evidence for an emerging new spiritual cosmology, and using both qualitative and quantitative data we trace the permeation of new spiritual beliefs and practices into everyday life settings, including health, wellbeing and psychology. Familiarity with primary sources will be emphasized, drawing on selections of writings by illustrative 'new spirituality' authors, and on material gathered by students themselves for their field report. Student Learning Experience Information: Lectures are based around presentations from the lecturer and include some audio-visual content. Background readings are set for each week's topics. Tutorials are student-led discussions of set readings based on a full bibliography built into the syllabus. Students will demonstrate their completion of the intended learning outcomes through a combination of lecture and tutorial activities, by the preparation of an essay, and by completion of an exam. The essay will require attention to points and themes crossing two or more weeks, and the exam will require one question to be answered from three sections covering the entire course, with the aim to achieve a whole course coverage in assessment.

Assessment Information

Written Exam 60%, Coursework 30%, Practical Exam 10%

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