Leader: Constant Mews and Kate Rigby
Not offered in 2008
This unit examines the history of attitudes to nature and the sacred from ancient times to the present, with particular attention to underlying assumptions about gender. Texts studied include mythic narratives about creation and 'mother Earth' from traditional cultures, Greek philosophical reflection on the cosmos, the impact of Judaeo-Christian monotheism, the rise of mechanistic science, and the development of contemporary theories about ecofeminism, all from a non-essentialist perspective.
Students successfully completing this unit will:
- Acquire a broad overview of the evolution of thinking about nature and the sacred, from the earliest records of mythic thought to most recent thinking on eco-feminism, with particular reference to the idea of "paradigm shifts".
- Acquire expertise in reading and analysing mythological, religious and scientific narratives about creation with particular reference to the assumptions about gender, nature and the sacred which underpin them.
- Become familiar with critical debate about a variety of issues connected to ecofeminism, such as the significance of devotion to "the earth mother" and "the goddess", the contribution of Judeo-Christian tradition to thinking about nature, the scientific revolution and the romantic re-enchantment of the world.
- Develop the skill of presenting both orally and in writing their own reasoned reflections about the contribution of ecofeminism to thinking about the sacred.
- Acquire the capacity to carry out a research project on an approved subject of their choice.
Exercise (1000 words): 20%
Class paper (1000 words): 20%
Research essay (7000 words): 50%
Oral presentation: 10%
2 hours (1 x 2 hour seminar) per week