Faculty of Arts

Monash University

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2012 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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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, or view unit timetables.

FacultyFaculty of Arts
OfferedClayton First semester 2012 (Day)
Coordinator(s)Professor Constant Mews


Previously coded HSY2765


This unit explores the literature of mysticism in a variety of religious traditions, in particular of medieval Christianity, Sufism within Islam, and of Jewish esoteric teaching, the Kabbalah. It will consider how mystical literature and teaching relates to any religious practice, its social function within any religion, and the extent to which it may challenge religious authority, while also drawing its discourse from a religious tradition. There will be opportunity to consider mysticism outside as well as within monotheist tradition. It thus raises questions about the nature of mysticism in its various forms, and its relationship to both rational and poetic thought.


Upon completion of this unit, students will be expected to:

  1. Demonstrate awareness of the major theoretical issues relating to mystical literature within a variety of religious traditions.
  2. Demonstrate awareness of the developments of mystical teaching in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, with particular attention to mysticism in medieval Christianity, Sufism, and Kabbalah in Judaism.
  3. Show understanding of the relationship between mystical literature and the religious tradition from which it emanates.
  4. Consider the historical context in which mystical teaching has emerged, and what social and political function it may play within a religious tradition.
  5. Demonstrate awareness of the major theoretical debates raised by the phenomenon of mysticism, and the question of whether or not it involves experiences common to different religious traditions.
In addition, third level students will have engaged in substantial research into the teachings and implications of at least two major mystical theorists within one or more religious traditions.


Exercise (1000 words): 10%
Class Presentation: 10%
Assignment (2000 words): 50%
Take-home exam (1500 words): 30%

Chief examiner(s)

Professor Constant Mews

Contact hours

One 90-minute lecture and one 1-hour tutorial per week

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

Religion and theology
Jewish civilisation


HSY2470, HSY3470, RLT2470, RLT3470, SHS3470, ATS3611