In this course, we will read and discuss theories of secularism and secularization – with their narratives of “disenchantment,” “despiritualization” and “rationalization” – from the fields of history, philosophy, sociology, and religious studies. Our inquiry will include questions about the imperial and racial dimensions of claims about Britain’s superior rationality, as well as the dominance of Protestant Christianity as the supposed pinnacle of human spiritual traditions. We will delve into several case studies from England, both past and present, in light of such theories. We will visit spots said to be endowed with ancient mystical powers, while debating the merits of claims that magic -- and religion -- are a thing of the past in 21st century England.
- Teacher: Jessica Starling