Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2007-2008 (archived)

Module THEO55130: Literature and Religion

Department: Theology and Religion

THEO55130: Literature and Religion

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2007/08


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None



  • Iris Murdoch articulated an increasingly commonly held view when she argued that literature, over the past two centuries, has tended to take over the philosophical, ethical and even in some contexts the spiritual work of religion. This module, which takes the form of fortnightly seminars, explores the work of a range of influential writers, from the post-Romantic to post-Modern periods, from a theological and critical perspective. Attention and debate in seminars is focused on key texts, whether fiction or poetry, which reflect arguably central preoccupations of the writer under consideration.
  • The module is in two parts, corresponding to the first two terms of the academic year. Part One moves through the historical and cultural perspectives offered by several major writers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The Michaelmas Term sessions will focus on the Bront??s, Matthew Arnold, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and finally the very different responses to the post-Christian world in the work of D.H. Lawrence and T.S. Eliot. Part Two aims to engage with writers on whom there is much less critical and academic work available, encouraging students to build up their own critical confidence in writing and thinking. There will be five sessions in the second part of the course, normally taking place at fortnightly intervals during the Epiphany Term.
  • Past sessions have included Elizabeth Jennings, Stevie Smith, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, R.S. Thomas, Salman Rushdie, Kazue Ishiguro, William Golding, Toni Morrison and Iris Murdoch. The interests of the group will be discussed during the early part of the course, to enable final decisions to be made relating to the choice of writers for the final part of the module.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
Subject-specific Skills:
    Key Skills:

      Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

      Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

      Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
      Preparation and Reading
      Total 300

      Summative Assessment

      Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
      Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
      Essay 5000 words 100%

      Formative Assessment:

      One 5000 word essay

      Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University