English 177

Literature and Philosophy: Cults in Popular Culture

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2022 Saha, Poulomi
TuTh 5-6:30 Physics Bldg 2


We are fascinated by cults. What is it about communities and groups that promise total belief and total enthrallment that so captures the imagination?

This course will look at a range of representations of cults in popular culture—from the documentary Wild Wild Country to novels, journalistic exposés, and films—to consider what cults might tell us about society, politics, religion, and our sense of self. This class hopes to invite students who are ready to be themselves fascinated, enthralled, and perhaps entranced. One of the tasks before us will be to learn how to think critically in the face of that fascination. Engaging theories of psychology, sociology, and religion, we will examine how cults and their representation in popular culture reveal questions of desire, belonging, and self-effacement.  

Students will also be asked to be ready to work collaboratively with one another over the course of the semester, building their own intentional community of sorts.

Films and readings may include Wild Wild CountryHoly Smokes: My Childhood in Orange, and Freud's Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego  

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