How have conceptions of earthly paradises served to legitimize colonial violence, to develop gendered geographies, and to promote music festivals and all-inclusive resorts? In what way do our conceptions of contemplative paradises within influence futuristic conceptions of cloud consciousness?
This transdisciplinary module explores these and other problems. The module employs a combination of approaches from cultural criticism, intellectual history, literary studies, philosophy, marketing, religious studies, and spatial poetics to explore problems such as how specific constructions of paradise spaces may critique the social, cultural, religious, and political values of a particular society; how ideas of profane and sacred spaces shape popular perceptions of ethical behaviour. In other words, this module examines the following broad issue from a variety of complementary perspectives: ‘How do cultural anxieties about finding paradise shape moral and intellectual values, colonial ideologies, intercultural encounters, and built environments.’
We will consider the foundational tropes that underlie and generate such spaces from the biblical account of Eden, across contemplative traditions, through medieval and renaissance conceptions of the earthly paradise, and in contemporary/futuristic reconfigurations. We will examine how such ideas have been instrumental in shaping gendered visions of the earthly paradise, and in turn, the extended impact that such visions have had on the horrors of Western colonialism, on paradisal prisons in chivalric literature, and on philosophical discussions of contemplation as paradise within. We will consider the future of such ideas through an examination of problems concerning cloud consciousness, uploaded minds, and digital afterlives. The module will also feature a critical examination of how such ideas are articulated today in organised sports (Cricket/Baseball), department stores, exotic getaways, and music festivals.
The module will allow you to develop and refine your multidisciplinary analytical skills by engaging with complex problems that resist simple solutions.
N.B. This module is complemented by ‘Posthumous Geographies I: Underworlds’, which explores similar problems but focuses instead on underworlds. You may take either module individually or both in succession.
Please note: Module availability and staffing may change year on year depending on availability and other operational factors. The School for Cross-faculty Studies makes no guarantee that any modules will be offered in a particular year, or that they will necessarily be taught by the staff listed on these pages.