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Religion, Secularity, and Affect in the Modern World

Module Code: TH240
Module Name: Religion, Secularity, and Affect in the Modern World
Module Credits: 15

Religion, Secularity, and Affect in the Modern World

2nd year module, autumn term 2016

Dr. Milija Gluhovic, School of Theatre, Performance, and Cultural Policy Studies

Religion, Secularity, and Affect in the Modern World

2nd year module, autumn term 2017

Dr. Milija Gluhovic, School of Theatre and Performance Studies

University of Warwick

Schedule: Tuesdays, 11:30-13:30 G56, Milburn House


Office Hours: Tuesdays, 13.30-14.30, or by appointment

Office: Room F04a, Milburn House

This inter-disciplinary course explores the ways in which theatre, performance and film intervene into debates about religion, secularity, and affect in the modern world. Even a cursory look at recent world events such as the storm over the sex abuse scandals within the Catholic Church, the ire over the Danish cartoons of Prophet Muhammad, the demolition of the Babri mosque in India by right-wing Hindu groups, the hijab (heardscarf) controversy in Europe, the protests within the Sikh community in Birmingham around Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti’s play Behzti (2004) exposes the fragility of claims of a secular public sphere. The increasing public contestations of the secular ideal mobilize passionate performances through claims and counter-claims that confirm the importance of religion in public life. Our increasingly globalized world has not rendered religion irrelevant but rather ever more powerful. How do we understand this seeming paradox? What do we mean by “secular”? How has the category of “secular” been historically constructed in opposition to religion? What role does religion play in the shaping of national identity? Why is our increasingly globalized world confronted with the concurrent rise in religious extremism? How are progressive sexual politics in Western democracies instrumentalised to discriminate against religious minorities? We will consider how a variety of artists and scholars tackle these questions.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module students should be able to demonstrate a critical understanding of contemporary theatrical practice in the light of cultural, political, historical, and philosophical debates on religion and secularity in the modern world. Furthermore, students should come away from this seminar with a new set of conceptual models and analytic tools to make use of in thinking about this complex and rich body of art. Students will achieve these learning outcomes through close reading of primary and secondary material, seminar discussions based around prescribed texts and seminar papers on specific topics. In addition to film screening, performance recordings will be used to illustrate the theatrical dimensions of the plays.

Grading and Guidelines:

Presentation: 10%

Essay: 40%

Written Exam, 1.5 hr: 50%

Attendance and Participation

Your active participation in class is vital. You are expected to have completed all of the required readings for the day and engage in classroom discussions with intelligence, imagination and honesty.


In your presentation, you are expected to summarize the argument of the article, make connections with the larger thematic questions of the course, and conclude by raising questions for discussion. If you choose a dramatic/literary text, performance, or film, you can present on one or more aspects of the material. Please hand in a brief outline of your presentation to me on the day of your presentation.

Final Research Paper

Write a research paper (2000 words) on a topic of your choice. You are welcome to read outside the course and incorporate this material into your paper. Your paper will be graded on the coherence and organization of your essay, the persuasiveness of your argument, your ability to use evidence to support your claim, the clarity of your prose, and of course, the merit of your ideas and analysis.

Full Assessment Criteria
Departmental Assessment Deadlines