HI6029 - Mystics, Deviants and Satanists: Unorthodox Thinking in the Age of the Inquisition

What will I learn on this module?

In this final year module you will gain familiarity with the ideas of the ostracised, the disenfranchised, the heterodox, the rebels, the heretics, and, in general, those women and men who, often defiantly, thought outside the boxes of dogma, doctrine, and the socially, politically, and morally acceptable within the strictures of a very specific context: the Inquisition-dominated early decades of a global empire led by Catholic Spain.

In this course you will be able to explore the relevance of marginality, innovation, and challenging established ideas in the constant flux of changing tensions that determine the evolution of human civilisations. With a focus on the spiritually and socially scandalous, you will learn how groundbreaking and “dangerous” ideals and behaviours contributed to reshaping the canon of values that constitute and consolidate Western Civilisations during the Late Medieval and Early Modern periods. This will be illustrated by Spain’s example of coexistence, conflict and intersection between Christianity, Judaism and Islam, as well as by its attempt to build a coherent new Christian Empire made of diverse peoples.

With the invaluable help of fascinating resources such as translated archives of the Spanish Inquisition, treatises, chronicles, diaries, sermons, admonitions and “forbidden” books, you will be able to explore how women and men of very diverse backgrounds conspired against the official. They often sacrificed their own life in the process of proposing alternative ways of thinking and being in an unforgiving context of rampant orthodoxy and brutal repression and punishment of those who strived to be different.

How will I learn on this module?

You will attend interactive and engaging lectures, seminars, and pre-established and voluntary academic tutorials. In addition to written, historical primary and secondary sources, other media, such as imagery, paintings, literary materials and architecture will be used to illustrate the ideas, characters and geographical and chronological contexts studied. Thus, you will gain a more vivid understanding of how mentalities and mindsets were created, of how societies evolved and responded to novelty, and of how dominant cultures and discourses adapted, often inadvertently, to the pressures of both organised and isolated unorthodox forces.

As part of this module, you will be encouraged to undertake directed and independent study, by means of reflecting on the ideas discussed in class, establishing connections and proposing hypotheses, comparisons, evaluations, observations and judgements. The spirit of the module, at level 6, is precisely to consciously value the attitudes of its protagonists, by means of challenging established pre-conceptions, promoting a deeper, more detailed understanding of history that ventures confidently beyond its headlines, and finding your own voice as a cultural and philosophical historian. You will be given weekly preparation guidelines to actively engage in informed discussions in seminar groups, which will be defined by an informal, collegial and constructive ethos where no proposal, idea or challenge is off limits. All materials used in the module will be available to you on the eLearning Portal from week 1. Summative assessment will map your self-development against the learning outcomes for the module.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Your academic development will be supported through engagement with your peers, academic tutor, and programme leaders in the usual manner. More specifically, academic support is provided to you through group and individual tutorials which allow specific issues to be addressed, and to promote progress in your academic development. These will be particularly useful for the purpose of developing your essay. Your tutor will be happy to discuss your ideas with you as often as you feel necessary in tutorials, via email or on the phone. The module tutor will be accessible within publicised office hours and by appointment, which is often possible at short notice.

Seminars will nurture a collaborative learning environment, and your programme leader will guide you through the requirements and expectations of your course at this crucial level. You will also be supported through individual engagement with the academic literature, lectures, and resources available on the eLearning Portal, all of which will be accessible from week 1 of the course. Coaching and formative feedback will be on-going throughout seminar activities, and through assessment tasks. They will also be an essential part of the tutorials you will attend.

At level 6, the emphasis of the support you will receive will be placed on exercising your confidence on your own ability to present your own understanding and interpretation of complex, research-based academic ideas. You will be supported to do this with ease, and as naturally as possible, in a range of written and oral formats, enhancing your transferrable skills.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:

1. Demonstrate a critical engagement with the concepts of canon and marginality, orthodoxy and heterodoxy.

2. Develop an understanding of the political, ideological and social contexts in which heterodox thoughts, behaviours and beliefs appeared.

3. Establish an operational knowledge of the anthropological traditions that lead to dissent, dissonance, and rebellion, placing them firmly in their geographical and chronological contexts.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:

4. Critically engage with ideas and examples of heterodoxy in a variety of complex cultural and religious frameworks. You will show an ability to present polemic ideas competently, both in writing and orally, enabling you to identify and present disagreement in a variety of professional contexts.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):

5. You will develop an expert understanding of ethical issues that apply universally: cultural and religious awareness; ethical and constructive approaches to disagreement; examples of amoral interpretations of majority rule; the role that minorities play in the development of harmonious societies; individual and collective freedoms and the role they play in the development of a social framework of coexistence that is tolerant to difference, diversity and dissent

How will I be assessed?

The module is summatively assessed by:
1) a 3,000-word essay and
2) a two-hour examination.

The essay and the exam will test different skills. Coursework will test your research skills, academic awareness, creativity and your ability to understand and illustrate key concepts. The exam, as intended by its division into two sections, will test your understanding, awareness and knowledge of the main ideas discussed in the module.

Formative assessment will be an ongoing feature of the module. You will be encouraged to deliver informal, short presentations during some of the seminar hours. You will present your preliminary essay ideas to the class in a friendly and constructive environment, in order to receive feedback from both your colleagues and your lecturer. Formative feedback will be directly relevant to both your essay and your exam. You will receive both informal comments during debates after each seminar, and more structured formative feedback to be uploaded on the e-Learning Portal.





Module abstract

Please find details of this module in the other sections provided.

Course info

UCAS Code T720

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Humanities

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2023 or September 2024

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing.

Full time Courses starting in 2023 are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but may include elements of online learning. We continue to monitor government and local authority guidance in relation to Covid-19 and we are ready and able to flex accordingly to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with additional restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors, potentially to a full online offer, should further restrictions be deemed necessary in future. Our online activity will be delivered through Blackboard Ultra, enabling collaboration, connection and engagement with materials and people.


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