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Mass Culture: Theological Engagement and Spiritual Practice

  • Course Dates: Mon 15 February, 2:00 pm to Thu 18 February, 2:00 pm

This module considers the phenomenon of mass culture as that which approximates to the actual ‘lived culture’ of millions of people today.

The module will explore and discuss topics such as changing patterns of leisure and travel in today’s world as well as technological and media mediated culture which forms the backdrop to spirituality and ‘doing’ theology in our age. In this respect modern mass culture frequently mimics religious modes of orchestrating emotion and creating identity while at the same time seeking legitimization through a variety of grand narratives such as consumerism, globalization and advances in information technology.

Particular attention will be paid to various key elements of the mass media and issues to do with media literacy as well as the views of a variety of sociologists, anthropologists, social critics and theologians that seek to interpret the significance and importance of mass culture for contemporary religion and spirituality. This module eschews the standard way of understanding mass culture as that which is either different from, independent of, or over and against popular, folk or high culture, in favour of viewing mass culture as itself a hybrid form of what is often referred to as ‘late modernity.’ In other words the zeitgeist of our age.

Five places are set aside for auditors, those not enrolled on the degree programme.

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Teaching team Dr Karen O'Donnell is Coordinator for the Centre for Contemporary Spirituality and Programme Leader for the MA in Christian Spirituality at Sarum College. She is a feminist, ecumenical, practical theologian whose interdisciplinary research interests span theology, spirituality, and pedagogy; Dr Karen Bray is an Assistant Professor of Religion and Philosophy at Wesleyan College. Her research areas include continental philosophy of religion; feminist, critical disability, critical race, queer, political, and decolonial theories and theologies; and secularism and the postsecular. She is particularly interested in exploring how secular institutions and cultures behave theologically. The Rev Anna Macham is Precentor at Salisbury Cathedral. Dr Eleanor McLaughlin is Programme Leader for Theology, Imagination and Culture. Dr Scott Midson is Lecturer in Liberal Arts at the University of Manchester. His research focuses on theological anthropology and posthumanism; he is currently exploring human-robot relationships. Dr Jayme Reaves is Director of Academic Development at Sarum College. Her work explores the various theological and social legacies created by social injustice, violence, peace, reconciliation and moral courage. Dr Stephen Roberts is a practical theologian, Anglican priest and amateur musician based in Cardiff, with a particular interest in the relationship between music and theology. He is Tutor in Practical Theology and Mission at the South Wales Baptist College and Honorary Lecturer at Cardiff University.
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