Enchanting Modernity: Gender, Sexuality and Esotericism HIST5177

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course introduces students to the complex ways in which esoteric belief and practice, and gender and sexuality, have been mutually implicated in the global processes of modernity. In-depth analysis of primary and secondary sources will be conducted within course themes relating to prominent esoteric currents, individuals, and practices: these may include spiritualism, theosophy, occultism and paganism. Interdisciplinary in approach, students will gain familiarity with a range of theoretical and methodological perspectives, including from gender & queer history, the history of religion, literary studies, and esotericism studies.


Ten weekly seminars (90 mins per week). 

Individual tutorial (30 mins).

Online discussion forum (2 hours across semester). 

Weekly recorded lecture (15 minutes per week).

Requirements of Entry

Standard entry to Masters at College Level.

Excluded Courses





Book review (1,000 words) - 30%

Recorded video of elevator pitch relating to research project (5 minutes) - 10%

Research project (4,000 words) - 60%

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ Develop students' knowledge and understanding of historical evidence and arguments relating to the gendered and sexual dimensions of esoteric beliefs and practices in the modern world.

■ Equip students with the skills to appraise theoretical and methodological approaches on gender, sexuality, and esotericism, from a range of disciplinary perspectives, which may include gender and queer history, the history of religion, literary studies, and esotericism studies.

■ Hone students' transferable skills in working independently on a book review and research project and presenting their work to both public and academic audiences in short- and long-form video and written form.  

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Identify and evaluate historical evidence and arguments relating to the complex ways in which esoteric belief and practice, and gender and sexuality, have been mutually implicated in the global processes of modernity, in relation to themes which may include spiritualism, theosophy, occultism and paganism. 

■ Describe and appraise theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches from disciplines which may include gender and queer history, the history of religion, literary studies, and esotericism studies; reflect upon and evaluate their utility to an understanding of gender, sexuality, and esotericism.

■ Present research findings in unambiguous, concise and effective prose, incorporating different kinds of substantiating evidence and using a range of formats and media to address scholarly and public audiences.

■ Engage in lively and well-grounded discussion with fellow students, in seminars and/or discussion forums, including commenting meaningfully on your peers' work.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.