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DIVINITY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES

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RS 4006 / RS 4506
CRITICAL THEORIES OF RELIGION: THE FRANKFURT SCHOOL
CREDIT POINTS 30

Course Co-ordinator: Ms A Finger

Pre-requisite(s): Available to students at level 4. Students of non-DRS subjects are required to get permission from the course co-ordinator prior to admission.

Note(s): This course will be available as RS 4006 in 2012/13.

Course runs jointly with level-5 course 'Theorising Religion with the Frankfurt School'.

In this course we will explore what the authors of the so-called Frankfurt School with Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer most prominently at the centre of the Institute for Social Research but also extending to eg. Walter Benjamin, Erich Fromm and possibly to J'rgen Habermas have had to say about religion. We shall ask in what ways critical theory is different from traditional theory and what the socio-cultural contexts were in which this re-definition of intellectual work took place. In the process, we will discover a type of thought that is sensitive for suffering and unwilling to simply abandon Utopian and Messianic hopes, but one that is also radical in its diagnosis of contemporary capitalist society and those religious phenomena conforming to and even expressive of it. Differences between authors and discontinuities within individual lifeworks will be assessed. Finally, we will discuss which of the intuitions of this way or these ways of theorising should and can be preserved in the academic study of religion.

1 one-hour lecture and 1 two-hour seminar per week.

1st Attempt: One oral presentation (10%); one essay of 3,000 words (45%); 1 two-hour written examination (45%)

Resit: Not available at level 4.