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Aims and Objectives

Principal Module Aims

We will prioritise understanding the ideas and cultural trends that bolstered supernatural beliefs, and will reflect on how historians can approach the ‘otherness’ of the past, considering the ways in which ‘fantastical’ belief systems could be rational within their historical contexts.

The history of the supernatural is a history of tension between religious orthodoxy, and beliefs or practices that subsisted outside of the intellectual mainstream. Throughout the module we will consider the clashes and crossovers between ‘popular’ and ‘elite’ conceptions of the supernatural world, and examine how discourses about the supernatural could marginalise or empower disadvantaged groups. We will also reflect on the ways in which supernatural beliefs changed amid the rapid social and cultural developments of the early modern period. Finally, the module will look more broadly at why concepts of the supernatural have proved so enduring across human societies.

Learning Outcomes
  • Demonstrate a detailed knowledge of the nature and range of early modern British supernatural beliefs, and show some awareness of the wider global framework.
  • Communicate ideas and findings, adapting to a range of situations, audiences and degrees of complexity.
  • Generate ideas through the analysis of a broad range of primary source material.
  • Analyse and evaluate the contributions made by existing scholarship.
  • Act with limited supervision and direction within defined guidelines, accepting responsibility for achieving deadlines.