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Shamans and Religious Ecstasy

Level 1, 10 Credits.

Available Dates:

Not Presently Available.
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Course Description

Shamanism evokes images of mystical journeys and exotic cultures in which ‘masters of spirits’ perform ecstatic cures.  Since Aldous Huxley’s book The Doors of Perception, popular interest in shamanism has increased dramatically and the role of ecstatic experience in other areas of culture has attracted comment from scholars in various disciplines. This course considers shamanism from an anthropological and historical perspective, but will also look at images of the shaman in popular culture, film, art and literature.  We will have the opportunity to consider specific cultures where shamanism is part of religious life, such as Inuit and Native North American peoples.  We will also examine material relating to the classical world and to cultures such as Celts and Finno-Ugric peoples where shamanic practices are reflected in the ancient literature. This is a course for anyone interested in shamanism and the rich variety of sources, both anthropological and popular, will help us to understand shamanism and its relevance for a modern urban world. 

Who is this course for?

This course is for anyone with an interest in religions and beliefs, and the enthusiasm to take that interest further. It operates as part of the Exploring the Past pathway, and will equip you with the knowledge, understanding and skills that will help you to study other courses in the pathway.

Learning and Teaching

This course consists of nine units divided into themes. Each unit comprises a 2-hour face-to-face session between 7pm and 9pm. These sessions will include lectures, class discussions and group-work, source analysis activities and exercises to develop your academic skills. There will also be an opportunity for learning outside of the classroom, facilitated by the university’s Virtual Learning Environment, Learning Central.

Coursework and Assessment

Students will be expected to complete two pieces of assessed work: a 500-word source analysis and a 1000-word essay. Advice and support will be provided for both assignments and you will receive detailed feedback relating to strengths and areas for improvement on both pieces of work.

Reading suggestions

Graham Harvey, Shamanism: A Reader (Routledge, 2003)

Ronald Hutton, Shamans: Siberian Spirituality and the Western Imagination (London, 2010)

Robert J. Wallis, Shamans/neo-Shamans: Ecstasy, Alternative Archaeologies and Contemporary Pagans (London, 2003)

Frederic Laugrand and Jarich Oosten, The Sea Woman Sedna in Inuit Shamanism and Art in the Eastern Artic (Fairbanks, Alaska, 2008)

Neil S. Price (ed.), The Archaeology of Shamanism (London, 2001).

Library and Computing Facilities

As a student on this course you are entitled to join and use the University library and computing facilities. You can find out more about these facilities on our website under Student Information, or by ringing the Centre on (029) 2087 0000.

Accessibility of Courses

Our aim is access for all. We aim to provide a confidential advice and support service for any student with a long term medical condition, disability or specific learning difficulty. We are able to offer one-to-one advice about disability, pre-enrolment visits, liaison with tutors and co-ordinating lecturers, material in alternative formats, arrangements for accessible courses, assessment arrangements, loan equipment and Dyslexia screening. Please contact the Centre on (029) 2087 0000 for an information leaflet.

Further Information

A range of further information can be found on our web site or in Choices.  This includes the times and dates of courses and an explanation of accreditation and credit levels.