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Social Sciences

Reading group in the social sciences for postgraduate theologians

We shall meet fortnightly on Tuesdays during full term: on 15 and 29 October, 12 and 26 November, 2013, from 4:15 – 6:00 in the Faculty of Divinity.

This term we shall read four science fiction novels from different periods over the last one hundred years. These books combine contemporary technological innovations with a moral world-view, both critical of the present and proposing some future horizon of redemption. In these respects they resemble many contemporary religious movements, which is why they can serve as material for a sociological study of religion. In these particular cases, the combination of scientific and human self-perfection is balanced against a pessimistic account of crisis and judgement.

The four texts are:

  • H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds (1898), 
  • Olaf Stapledon, Last and First Men (1930), 
  • William Gibson, Neuromancer (1984), and 
  • Charles Stross, Accelerando (2005).

Please come to the first session having read the H.G. Wells.

This reading group is intended primarily for postgraduates who wish to explore the possibility of using social science methods in their research or who have a broad interest in the topic. The group is also open to any interested post-doctoral researcher or senior member of the Faculty. Members of other Faculties are welcome, but should contact me first.

Timothy Jenkins (Reader in Anthropology and Religion).