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Unit information: Sacred Scripture and Popular Culture in 2013/14

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Unit name Sacred Scripture and Popular Culture
Unit code THRS10039
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. John Lyons
Open unit status Open




School/department Department of Religion and Theology
Faculty Faculty of Arts


As arguably the way that religious ideas are most encountered and hence are most influential in a media-driven world, religion of/in popular culture now forms a major avenue for the dissemination and development of contemporary spirituality. In this unit, the emphasis will be on the use of sacred texts such as the Bible, the Quran, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Gnostic Gospels, in contemporary popular culture. Against a introduction to possible theoretical background of theoretical frameworks for understanding popular culture, various examples of scripture in book, film, comic, game, song, artwork, internet etc, will be examined through the lenses of power, gender, violence, mysticism, and salvation, thus allowing students to investigate examples from both their own settings and from cultures unfamiliar.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will have (1) developed a general knowledge and understanding of theoretical views of and approaches to the study of popular culture; (2) gained an broad understanding of how sacred texts are transposed into the multiple-medias which make up popular culture; (3) demonstrated the ability to analyse and evaluate the impact, if any, of scriptural texts on a variety of popular cultural items or phenomena, or the development of a scripture through such means; (4) demonstrated the ability to identify and evaluate pertinent evidence/data in order to illustrate/demonstrate a cogent argument.

Teaching details

20 hours (lecture/seminar)

Assessment Details

One summative coursework essay of 1500 words (50%) and one unseen examination of two hours comprising 2 questions out of 6 (50%).

Reading and References

T.R. Clark and D.W. Clanton (ed.), Understanding Religion and Popular Culture (Routledge, 2012). R.A. Guins and O. Zaragoza Cruz (eds), Popular Culture: A Reader (Sage Publications, 2005). J.F. A. Sawyer (ed.), The Blackwell Companion to the Bible and Culture (Blackwell, 2012). J. Storey, Cultural Theory and Popular Culture: An Introduction (5th Ed.; Longman, 2009). B.D. Forbes and Jeffrey H. Mahan (eds), Religion and Popular Culture in America (Revised Edition; University of California Press; First Edition, Revised edition, 2005). S.M. Hoover and L.S. Clark (eds), Practicing Religion in the Age of the Media (Columbia University Press, 2002).