About the Erotic Desires: Gender, Sexuality, and Spirituality (2024) course
The module explores the place of eros in the Christian spiritual tradition. When expressing love for God, Christians had plenty of terms for “love” to choose from (e.g. agape) and yet it is eros that has been most consistently used in terms of expressing desire for God. We will be examining why this might be the case and what the implications of this might be. A central text for this module will be the biblical text of the Song of Songs.
We will be drawing this attention to eros into dialogue with contemporary discussions around gender and sexuality, considering feminist and “masculinist” spiritualities, trans and nonbinary spiritualities, queer spiritualities as well as desire and sexuality in the Christian tradition.
This course covers the methodological tools to engage with a study of sexuality and gender as they relate to Christian spirituality.
The aim is to understand how the Christian tradition has engaged with gender, sexuality, and spirituality and how that impacts on contemporary debates in these areas. Students will be encouraged to relate these insights to their own experience and to critically evaluate the current theological and spiritual concerns in matters of gender and sexuality.
This course is ideal for LGBTQ+ people and those who work with these groups, including chaplains, as well as those in advocacy organisations.
Here are the external tutors who contributed to this course in 2022
Mark Burrows is a scholar of historical theology, an award-winning poet and translator of German literature. His most recent volumes of poems are The Chance of Home. Poems (2018), and, with Jon M. Sweeney, two collections of meditative poems inspired by the medieval mystic Meister Eckhart: Meister Eckhart’s Book of the Heart (2017) and Meister Eckhart’s Book of Secrets (2019). Visit his website
Rachel Mann is a priest, writer and scholar based in Manchester. Author of 12 books, she writes and broadcasts about everything from sexuality and gender identity to prayer and liturgy to popular culture and literary theory. Visit her website
Will Moore is an Anglican writer and speaker and is training for priesthood at Westcott House, Cambridge. His research in the areas of gender, masculinity, sexuality, violence, and how they intersect with Christianity and the Bible has been published in academic journals, edited volumes, and online blogs. His first book, Unravelling Biblical Masculinities, will be published with SCM Press in 2022.
Jayme Reeves is a public theologian and the Director of Academic Development at Sarum College. She is co-host of the Outlander Soul podcast, which looks at the Outlander book series by Diana Gabaldon as sacred text by analysing it through a theological, religious, and spiritual lens and engaging with fans about its sacred role in their lives. Visit her website
Lyndon Webb studied modern languages at Cambridge before moving to Dorset and spending four years living in intentional communities. He has a particular interest in the intersection between queer theology, ecology, and the Song of Songs. In 2019, he began his curacy at the church of St John the Baptist in Broadstone, Poole.
Catherine Williams is an Anglican priest with a portfolio ministry as a Christian writer, retreat leader and spiritual director. Catherine contributes to popular spirituality resources including Daily Reflections, Pray-As-You-Go and Fresh from the Word. She edits The Canterbury Preacher’s Companion and can be heard daily online, leading the offices on the Daily Prayer and Time to Pray apps.
This is a postgraduate course open to ‘auditors’ e.g. those not enrolled for academic credit.
This course would made an excellent addition to a study break, retreat or sabbatical in the beautiful Salisbury Cathedral Close, where residential participants enjoy full board, access to the library and to the pattern of liturgy at Salisbury Cathedral.
Whether it’s cultural events, sightseeing (Stonehenge is nearby for example) or shopping — there’s plenty to do if you’d like to extend your stay the weekend before and after the course. For ideas, visit Salisbury Cathedral Close attraction websites to see what’s on Sarum’s doorstep. Visit the Wiltshire Creative website to view events at nearby Salisbury Playhouse and the Salisbury Arts Centre. The Experience Salisbury website has an excellent city-wide listing of forthcoming events around the city.
Need financial assistance? View our list of grantmaking trusts
Enrolled students also may attend teaching weeks for modules in addition to the modules which they are studying for credit, by permission of the Programme Leader. Student rates for hospitality costs during a teaching week currently are: £250 (en-suite), £200 (standard) and £60 (non-residential), along with an educational fee of £125 per booking. The audit fee and hospitality prices are reviewed annually with any changes effective from 1 July.