Sometimes, people ask me at which subject/specialist library I work, and I almost always say “Divinity”, then followed by “Theology and Religious Studies”. Almost always people assume that this must mean that students here “only” study the holy scriptures, and when we catalogued and processed recent undergraduate and MPhil dissertations, I was struck by the diversity. I’ll give you the benefit of a very small “guided tour” of these dissertations, to show what I mean (the following are only two of the undergraduate dissertations, from the highest-marked dissertations given to us – many thanks to our colleagues in the Faculty Office, and the students for letting us have these):
The Old Nichol : religion and irrelgion in a late Victorian Slum, a study of rhetoric and reality (Part IIB, 2015), investigates Slums in England, or rather more specifically it gives an insight into the 19th century history of London, the religious life and customs of its time. How often have I heard people respond to me telling them that I am a librarian with something along the lines that this must be such a good job: with all the exciting stuff to read; alas, this dissertation would need to be added to a long list of things to read, maybe for a day after my retirement. Yes, obviously, this dissertations considers the religious believes at the time, but goes way beyond this. The nearly 40 illustrations in this text show not only churches, and portraits of victorian men (looking pensive), but also street scenes, signficiant squares, and street plans. This might also be of interest to anyone keen to know more about Victorian London.
It is maybe not very surprising that ‘Spiritual Communion’ and the search for a ‘higher inward life’ in George Eliot’s ‘Middlemarch’ (Part IIB, 2016) focuses on Dorothea, her hopes before marriage, the experience of the marriage, and ultimately the status and struggle of women in the first part of the C19. However, to combine this approach of looking at the Feminist themes of the novel with Eliot’s philosophical ideas of self and religion, makes for (maybe) a far more philosophical reading than might have been expected from a TRS dissertation.
I will continue to highlight a couple more dissertations in the coming months – also of the MPhil dissertations; if you cannot wait that long, please check out the catalogue records for the other sample dissertations we have:
- (link to iDiscover records)
- Part IIB dissertations from 2015 onwards (link to iDiscover records)
- MPhil dissertations from 2016 onwards (link to iDiscover records)
Oh, and read the guidelines at http://www.divinity.cam.ac.uk/library/resources if you would like to consult these dissertations at the Divinity Library.