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Monash University

Monash University Handbook 2011 Undergraduate - Unit

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.

FacultyFaculty of Arts
OfferedNot offered in 2011
Coordinator(s)Dr Peter Howard


Previously coded HSY2045


This unit explores and critiques the history and ideas underpinning popular representations of Christianity (e.g. The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons). It aims to investigate the construction of religious cultures in their broader context: versions of the life of Jesus; saints' lives (e.g. the role of Mary Magdalene); relics and legends (e.g. the Holy Grail); the role of societies (e.g. medieval Templars and the modern Opus Dei); the impact of new thinking on artists (da Vinci, Botticelli) and on Christian architectural and artistic representations; the popularity of popular Christianities in the new millennium.


Students successfully completing this unit will have:

  1. Developed a critical understanding of the historical construction of religious cultures;
  2. Acquired an understanding of the historical roots of Christianity in the context of gnosticism and other Ancient Near Eastern religions;
  3. Acquired an understanding of the historical matrix of texts out of which emerged the codification of the Christian bible;
  4. Explored the complex history of the traditions surrounding saints' lives and the function of these traditions in different historical contexts;
  5. Reflected on the role of relics and legends in Christianity;
  6. Explored the role societies in Catholic Christianity;
  7. Examined the impact of new thinking in relation to the textual, architectural and artistic representations;
  8. Examined the role of women, and theologies of womanhood, in Catholicism;
  9. Developed an understanding of the role of myth and symbol in religion, and of the romantic resurgence of myth in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries;
  10. Reflected on reasons underpinning the attractions of popularized (and often fictional) myths and legends of Christianity in the context of contemporary culture;
  11. Acquired the capacity to critique contemporary representations of historical material;
  12. Had opportunities to work effectively with others and to express ideas verbally in group situations;
  13. Developed skills in bibliographic research, analysis, and written expression;
  14. Be capable of independently devising and executing an advanced research project in the above areas of study, based predominantly on primary sources;


Essay related work: 60%
Class related written work: 20%
Seminar preparation and presentation: 20%

Chief examiner(s)

Peter Howard

Contact hours

One 1-hour lecture and one 1-hour tutorial per week.

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study

Religion and theology