Sociology and Criminology

Transcendence, Devotion and Desire

Module code: L3119A
Level 6
30 credits in autumn semester
Teaching method: Lecture, Seminar
Assessment modes: Coursework

Starting from a phenomenological perspective, this module aims to explore the phenomenon of transcendence, the contextually situated (but, perhaps universal) human desire and capacity to transcend local ‘situations’. Addressing such themes as sex, drugs, death, gods of war, cultism, mysticism, secular transcendence, dreams, and false promises, it explores the powerful world of devotion and desire, developing sociologically how we might conceptualise human relations with such ‘gods’, alongside thinking critically about the worlds engendered by such relations.

This module raises questions about the varied ontological assumptions present within different social settings (i.e. what exists to be devoted to); it looks at the narratives people employ to makes sense of their devotions and desires (i.e. stories expressing deep-seated ontological assumptions); and it explores how the body learns to desire and be devoted in particular ways (i.e. the forming of charismatic bodily attachments to various ‘gods’ that shape and govern our lives).

Module learning outcomes

  • Demonstrate a detailed knowledge and understanding of theories of charisma in the social sciences, and be able to apply these theories to different social phenomena.
  • Explain and analyse the contributions of Phenomenological approaches to social interaction and be able to apply these insights to different social phenomena.
  • Assimilate and apply material from recent academic research (and where relevant, personal experiences), to illustrate the theoretical approaches covered in the module.
  • Engage with the central debates introduced concerning the body, narrative, ontology and devotion, critically assessing whether the development of such a theoretical lens provides useful sociological insights concerning a variety of contemporary social phenomena.