Recent Submissions

  • Law and Order in Medieval Chester 1066-1506: Evidence from Domesday Book, Chester City Courts and medieval texts

    Doran, John; Gaunt, Peter; Wilson, Katherine; Greatorex Roskilly, Vanessa J. (University of Chester, 2018-09-19)
    Medieval Chester has been stigmatised by post-medieval writers and academics as a militarised ‘Wild West’ town full of ruffians and criminals. This thesis investigates whether that reputation is justified. Three categories of evidence are systematically evaluated: the Domesday laws, the records of proceedings from Chester’s four medieval city courts – the Crownmote, the Portmote, the Pentice Court and the Passage Court – and references to Chester in medieval texts. Findings from the city’s Mayors’ and Sheriffs’ Books, the Cheshire Outlawry Rolls, Trailbaston proceedings and the Bishops’ Registers are also assessed. It is clear from these sources that, while the centuries wrought some changes and assault was not uncommon, throughout the Middle Ages the proportion of violent offences perpetrated by citizens of Chester was comprehensively dwarfed by the trading offences, property transactions and debts which formed the bulk of cases handled by the City Courts. The examination of medieval chronicles and other literary sources confirms that contemporary commentators did not view Chester as particularly lawless. Comparisons with the national state of law and order in medieval England strengthen the contention that Chester was no more criminal or militarised than any other medieval city.
  • Spiritual formation in secondary education: An investigation into how children use collective worship within secondary education

    Graham, Elaine; Llewellyn, Dawn; Birkinshaw, Stephen J. (University of Chester, 2018-09-03)
    The past thirty years has witnessed significant changes in the practice of collective worship in UK schools, although the statutory requirements relating to collective worship have not changed since 1988. Predominantly, collective worship in schools is managed and delivered by adults. However I became aware, from my professional context and practice as a chaplain in a faithbased urban secondary school, little attention has been given to the ways children actually experience and make use of collective worship. The aim of my research has therefore been to gain a more child-centred perspective on collective worship, and to generate a deeper understanding of how children might use collective worship to reflect on their relationships and life experiences. My research methods reflect the aim to privilege the children’s voices: the primary data source comes from children’s own accounts of participating in collective worship, using a longitudinal qualitative method across four years. Using a definition drawn from Hay and Nye (1996, 2006) and Hyde (2008), the study employs thematic analysis to interpret the data using the framework of spirituality as relationship with God (or Transcendent), self and other (including people and the world). The results revealed in this study show that children construct collective worship as a sacred space in which they are able to reflect on their own understandings of God, faith and the world. Crucial to this process is an emerging sense of self and its connection with these relationships. Through critical reflection within collective worship children encounter a particular dynamic that I have identified as reluctance-permission-opportunity. I therefore argue this dynamic underpins a child’s evolving sense and awareness of faith and relationship with God, other and self, and represents aspects of a three-dimensional model of spiritual reflection and maturity. The study concludes that the sacred space of collective worship is actively constructed by the children, building on the established frameworks offered by the statutory provision of school-based collective worship. The constructed sacred space of collective worship is – for the children – precious, set apart, revelatory, special and life-changing. As such there is a sense of ownership by the children of this sacred space. This thesis suggests new approaches to researching and understanding children’s spirituality as well as implications for professional practice. It represents a contribution to knowledge by advancing a more nuanced understanding of children’s spiritual development than currently exists. The notion of a three-dimensional dynamic also offers a contribution to theoretical understandings of the concepts of spiritual formation. The findings of the research are seen as having implications for professional practice in collective worship by arguing for a child-centred approach to critical spiritual exploration and reflection, and therefore to the design and provision of collective worship.
  • From Fallen Woman to Businesswoman: The Radical Voices of Elizabeth Gaskell and Margaret Oliphant

    Wynne, Deborah; Baker, Katie (University of Chester, 2018-09-28)
    This thesis demonstrates the ways in which Elizabeth Gaskell and Margaret Oliphant drew upon their domestic identities as wives and mothers to write in radical, yet subtle, ways which had the potential to educate and inform their young female readership. While in the nineteenth century the domestic space was viewed as the rightful place for women, I show how both Gaskell and Oliphant expanded this idea to demonstrate within their novels and short stories the importance of what I term an 'extended domesticity'. This thesis charts how Gaskell and Oliphant educated their young female readers to imagine their lives beyond conventional domesticity. The extended version of domesticity they presented offered space for women of all backgrounds and experiences, including those whose lives did not fit into the Victorian ideal of marriage and maternity, to forge their own identities, educate themselves, and find personal fulfillment. Through examples of female characters from several of Gaskell's and Oliphant's novels and short stories, I explore the ways in which both writers made clear the importance of the domestic space as a tool for women's personal growth. Without providing prescriptive answers or solutions, both authors encouraged their readers to make decisions about their own lives by showing them what was possible when domesticity was extended into a place for education and development. They also pointed to possibilities for women beyond the domestic sphere. In the 'Introduction' to the thesis I outline my argument for Gaskell's and Oliphant's 'radical voices', discussing the range of recent critical approaches, as well as positioning Gaskell and Oliphant in their historical context as nineteenth-century women writers. I explore how the rise of feminism affected their work and consider how their way of communicating ideas in fiction differed from the approach taken by their contemporary, George Eliot. Chapter One discusses in detail Gaskell's and Oliphant's domestic identities and how both authors drew upon these to create an extended domesticity within their novels and short stories. I explore the publishing careers of both women before exploring how they exemplified the importance of educating their young female writers with their work. This chapter also introduces Gaskell's focus on representing female sexuality and Oliphant's interest in exploring the choices available for women in marriage and a career. Central to the chapter is a discussion of how both authors extended the boundaries of the domestic by representing it as a place for women to find recuperation, education, and personal growth. They did this, I argue, via their development of 'radical voices'. In Chapter Two the focus is on Gaskell's representation of the 'fallen' or sexually experienced unmarried woman. Through the close analysis of four of Gaskell's novels – Mary Barton, Ruth, North and South and Wives and Daughters - and two of her short stories – 'Lizzie Leigh' and Cousin Phillis, I demonstrate the evolution of her female characters, all of whom experience their sexuality in different ways. While her earlier young women have little autonomy over their lives, her later female characters are endowed with the ability to make their own decisions and forge their own identities. Gaskell makes clear that sexuality is a natural part of women's lives and that even so-called 'fallen' women should have a place in an extended domestic community or family where they will find room for recuperation and rehabilitation. Chapter Three moves on to discuss Oliphant's representation of 'enterprising' women. These women make choices regarding marriage and maternity, and even have identities in the public sphere as businesswomen. Again, through the close analysis of four of Oliphant's novels – Miss Marjoribanks, Phoebe Junior, Hester and Kirsteen - and two of her short stories – 'A Girl of the Period' and 'Mademoiselle', I demonstrate how Oliphant represented a range of female characters who were enterprising in different ways; from those who did not have careers of their own, yet used their talents in their communities, to those who managed their own businesses and enjoyed identities in the public sphere. The 'Conclusion' sums up the main arguments of the thesis, concluding that for both Gaskell and Oliphant their professional identities were as important as their domestic identities and that their novels and short stories suggest that all women could achieve an assimilation of private and public roles. I suggest that by using their radical, yet subtle voices, Gaskell and Oliphant showed that women could make choices and decisions over their own lives which moved them beyond the realms of conventional domesticity.
  • The Evolution of Artificial Illumination in Nineteenth Century Literature: Light, Dark, and the Spaces in Between

    Richard Leahy; University of Chester (University of Chester, 2016-03-04)
    This thesis concentrates on the role of artificial light in the society, culture, and literature of the nineteenth century. Technologies of illumination in this period had a great effect on how society operated and how people experienced space and reality. These effects will be studied through reference to contemporary sources, historical analysis, and literary analysis. Each chapter uses a distinct theoretical viewpoint, and maintains a focus on a particular author (where possible). In the first chapter, the role of firelight in the works of Elizabeth Gaskell is examined, using Gaston Bachelard’s ideas on fire and psychology. The second chapter focuses on the role of candlelight in the works of Wilkie Collins, using Jacques Lacan’s theories on the Gaze. Due to the density of metaphoric references to gaslight in his fiction, Émile Zola’s work is the focus of the third chapter, while Jean Baudrillard’s theories on the nature of modern reality inform the theoretical analysis. The fourth and final chapter examines electric light’s rise to prominence and the rapidly changing attitudes towards it. It was impossible to limit this chapter’s study to only one author, so instead attention is paid to how electric light transitions from a fantastical technology to something real; this is done through a close examination of the early Science Fiction of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, before the study moves to examine the realism of E.M. Forster and Edith Wharton. The theoretical background of this chapter is informed by a combination of previously covered theory, with attention also paid to posthumanism. The thesis identifies a number of trends and developments in the relationship between light and literature. It notes how artificial light created a space symbolically independent of light and dark, as well as elaborating on each light source’s individual symbolism. It also documents the relationship between artificial light and the transition of society and culture into modernity; it outlines the development, and cultural acceptance, of the notion of a technologically connected society and consumerism. Perhaps most importantly, this study identifies a psychological connection between literature, light, and the individual, and examines the representation of such a concept in the symbolism and metaphor of artificial light.
  • Hurting and Hiding: The Lived Experiences of Black Men Struggling with Same-Sex Attraction and Adherence to the Teachings and Beliefs of UK Black Majority Churches.

    Watts, Graham; Rich, Tony; Middleton, Paul; Bradshaw, Ruthlyn Ophelia (University of Chester, 2018-04-25)
    Black Majority Churches (BMC) play a central role in the lives of Black people, informing culture and community. Within the BMC the issues of sexuality and in particular homosexuality are rarely spoken of. However, doctrines in regards to homosexuality have been conveyed in a seemingly homophobic manner, hence individuals experiencing same-sex attraction (SSA) in BMCs have remained silent and unsupported. This phenomenological study explores the lived experiences of five Black Men struggling with SSA and adhering to the teachings of the BMC. The study posed the question, ‘How do Black men struggling with SSA and the teachings of BMCs perceive and describe their lived experiences?’ Data for the study was collected primarily through individual interviews conducted with each participant. The transcripts were analysed using Colazzi’s method for analysing data and two major themes emerged: unfairness and needing support. Discussions of the participants lives indicated that they felt compelled to keep their SSA hidden to avoid stigmatisation, discrimination, isolation and rejection. Moreover, they were also discomforted by the ongoing conflict between their homoerotic feelings and their religious beliefs. Additional data resulting from the questionnaires completed by seventeen Black ministers and leaders of BMCS, provided understanding of the context in which the participants were struggling. The findings suggest that there is a lack of a pastoral care approach for persons experiencing SSA in BMCS and recommends that such an approach is developed. Importantly, this study gives voice to Black men with SSA hurting and hiding in BMCs and has the potential to contribute to the resources required by anyone wanting to find out more about this experience and initiate further research.
  • Responsible Before God: Human Responsibility in Karl Barth’s Moral Theology

    Clough, David; Fulford, Ben; Leyden, Michael J. (University of Chester, 2014-04)
    This thesis contributes to the recent scholarly re-evaluation of Karl Barth’s moral theology through an examination of the theme of human responsibility in his thought. The language of responsibility recurs throughout Barth’s ethical writings, and its frequency and strategic significance in his articulation of the nature of the active human agent in Christian ethics means it is worthy of scholarly consideration. To date, no extended study of this topic in Barth’s thought exists, and, apart from critical summaries of his use of responsibility language in select parts of the Church Dogmatics in corners of the secondary literature, responsibility-ethicists have tended to ignore Barth’s work on this topic. My intention, through exegetical reading of several key texts, is to provide explication, clarification, and analysis of his understanding of human responsibility. On the basis of this exegetical work I shall argue that the idea of responsibility is in fact a key component of Barth’s theological ethics and significantly informs his presentation of human agency. Following the introductory chapter, the central chapters of the thesis are exegetical readings of human responsibility in three major texts from the Barth corpus: the Ethics lectures; the ethics of CD II/2; and the special ethics of CD III/4. The fifth and final chapter is a synopsis of the development of Barth’s understanding and his articulation of human responsibility across these texts. My constructive proposal as to how we may understand Barth’s overall account is based on the preceding exegetical work. I argue that the ethics of the Church Dogmatics ought to be read together, and that in doing so we see that the mature Barth offers: 1) a theological description of human responsibility, which I argue is a kind of moral ontology in which the human agent is called to inhabit a particular space in relation to God; and 2) concrete indications of the kind of responsible actions that represent and enable the embedding of that description in human life. He develops what I term “indicative practices” which give shape to human lives, enabling human agents to navigate the moral space into which they have been placed. These two elements taken together are, I suggest, the sum of Barth’s account of human responsibility.
  • No Contemptible Commander: Sir William Howe and the American War of Independence, 1775-1777

    McLay, Keith A. J.; Gaunt, Peter; Smith, David (University of Chester, 2013-10)
    This thesis examines the period in command of British land forces during the American War of Independence of Sir William Howe. The previously untapped resource of a draft of Howe’s famous narrative to the House of Commons underpins the original contribution made by this thesis, which also draws original conclusions from more familiar documents. Howe’s command is considered in the light of four major factors: his relationship with subordinate officers; the composition and quality of his army; his relationship with the American Secretary, Lord George Germain; and his personal qualities and experience. These four factors are then combined to consider key tactical and strategic decisions made by Howe while in command of the British army in North America. No attempt has been made to examine every decision or event during Howe’s period in command. Rather, those most contentious and controversial events, and those that can be reconsidered using new evidence and new interpretations of existing evidence, have been focussed on. This thesis does not (nor was it intended to) systematically counter the prevailing opinions of Howe set down over more than two centuries of historical works. However, it can be seen that Howe had more reasonable grounds for some of his most contentious decisions than has previously been argued and his overall strategy for 1776 was more coherent than he is generally given credit for.
  • Between Texts: The Resonant Fictions of Sarah Waters

    Stephenson, William; Yates, Louisa (University of Chester, 2011-05)
    The central project of this thesis is to diagnose, define, and articulate the concept of resonance. Resonance is a deeply textual, but not intertextual, relationship that exists between fictional and theoretical texts, allowing the former to position itself as a co-discursive partner to the latter. This is achieved via the subtle importation of theoretical models into fictional settings. In this instance, a resonant relationship is traced between Sarah Waters’s three neo-Victorian novels – Tipping the Velvet, Affinity, and Fingersmith – and three publications which are representative of queer theory published in the early 1990s: Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, Epistemology of the Closet by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick (both published in 1990), and Terry Castle’s The Apparitional Lesbian (1993). As the introduction to this thesis clarifies, Waters’s novels are particularly useful to the resonant critic. All three novels are popularly and critically established as part of the neo-Victorian genre, yet their participation in many of that genre’s defining processes – overt intertextuality, metafictionality, parody – is limited. Limited, too, is their relationship with the Victorian texts that so infuse the genre. It is not, however, that Waters’s novels completely fail to reach for textual models; rather, as this thesis establishes, they reach for models found in contemporary queer theory, rather than canonical Victorian novels. This thesis contends that Waters’s fictions are examples of a distinctive assimilation and reworking of the postmodern principles that have helped to make the contemporary historical novel so very popular. The novels’ determination to articulate previously silenced voices, meanwhile, gives rise to this thesis’s second project, also stated in the introduction: an examination of the homonormative lesbians found in Waters’s novels. Women love, desire, and cherish one another – but are also viciously cruel, devastatingly unfaithful, and coldly deceiving to one another. The thesis as a whole identifies the range of relationships and individuals strewn across Waters’s neo-Victorian output as a co-discursive reverberation with queer theory’s politicised calls for queer representation. Each chapter surveys the extant scholarship on each of Waters’s novels, before pairing each fictional text with the theoretical text with which it resonates, in order to systematically examine the resonant relationship. As such, the fictional and theoretical texts examined in this thesis are given equal weight; theory is not positioned as a lens through which fiction is to be read. Chapter 1 traces models of performativity, Gender Trouble’s dismantling of the originating status of the body, and the failure of feminism to represent the lesbian through the bold picaresque narrative of Tipping the Velvet. Chapter 2 identifies Affinity’s claustrophobic corridors and panoptic middle-class houses as a receptive environment for an importation and repositioning of Epistemology of the Closet’s homosexual panic and the spectacle of the closet. Finally, chapter 3 finds the rather less deconstructive approach to lesbian bodies in The Apparitional Lesbian suggestive of Waters’s project as a whole; with regards to Fingersmith in particular, triangulated relationships, blocking gestures, and the de-apparitionalising of the lesbian are established as evidence of the resonant relationship.
  • Beyond Dialogue - An exploration of the Musalaha: Curriculum of Reconciliation model of interfaith dialogue with relevance for the UK context.

    Baker, Christopher T. H.; Rawlings, Philip J. (University of Chester, 2017-07)
    Issues concerning the integration of migrant communities into United Kingdom society have once again become the subject of national debate, with the publication of the Casey Review in December 2016. In the aftermath of terrorist incidents in Manchester and London, as well as the 2016 Referendum vote for the United Kingdom to leave to the European Union, the reported rise in racially motivated hate crimes and an increase in both antisemitism and Islamophobia, the necessity of developing healthy relationships between communities is imperative. When considering the question of whether segregation is on the increase or not Cantle and Kaufman conclude that while minority ethnic communities are dispersing there is significantly less mixing with the ‘White British’ communities, who seem to be withdrawing from mixed areas. The need for integration is vital. This research starts with the premise that religion is part of the solution, not a part of the problem. This qualitative research explores ethnographically the process of interfaith dialogue, by participant observation of three different groups over a five-year period, with intense reflection over the last three years. These groups were made up of Muslims and Christians, and Hindus in one group, all of whom had a deep personal faith in their respective religions. Using Salim Munayer’s Musalaha Six-stage Cycle of Reconciliation, which was pioneered in the Israel-Palestine context of 25 years of dialogue practice among Messianic Jews and Palestinian Christians, the research adapts and builds on this model, for use in interfaith dialogue, developing a fresh definition of ‘interfaith dialogue’ and a method of interfaith dialogue appropriate for the UK context. The thesis makes three main contributions to academic knowledge. First, it presents a new definition and fresh approach to interfaith dialogue with relevance for the UK context, which is particularly relevant for devout believers in their respective religions, to stand alongside other models. Second, the results of the research identify a list of fourteen key themes, including identity, faith and reconciliation, which deserve further analysis. The research methods indicated that there are many more issues that, with further analysis, might be profitably explored. Third, that following the six-stage cycle the path to reconciliation, although remaining hard, is nevertheless achievable, especially for those whose faith provides the motivation and drive to engage at depth with the other.
  • Postsecular Rapprochement: A Strategic Model for Church Engagement in a Postwelfare, Post-regeneration Age

    Baker, Christopher T. H.; Llewellyn, Dawn; Jones, Margaret A. (University of Chester, 2017-08)
    Since the global financial crisis of 2008-9 and the deficit reduction measures introduced by the British government from 2011, a new strategic deinstitutionalized model of community engagement has begun to emerge to address issues of social justice and environmental concern. Cloke (2011) identifies this new space of engagement as ‘rapprochement’. This research develops this concept, arguing that this organic, radical, social enterprise form of partnership offers the Established Church1 a potential means to engage in community-based social action in a postwelfare, post-regeneration age. A redistribution of power that seeks to enable agency and release enterprise, innovation and hope is at the heart of this new community-based model of partnership. These innovative enterprises are particularly evident in inner urban areas, although it is a model also appropriate for suburban and rural communities. This fresh model of partnership is a consequence of a developing nexus between rapprochement and austerity. Rapprochement emerges in what Habermas (2001 onwards) identifies as the postsecular. This acknowledges that religion, despite expectations to the contrary (Wilson 1982; Bruce 2002), continues to have a significant role in the public square. The global financial crisis and austerity measures imposed by the last two governments (2010-2015; 2015-2017) reflect a neo-liberal ideology leaving those least able to cope increasingly vulnerable and in need of support. A hermeneutic ethnographic approach accesses the experiences of leaders engaged in public, private and third sector organizations in a time of on-going austerity and considers their knowledge and understanding of partnership working. Data consists of 14 interviews and is triangulated with participant observation in two partnerships identified as examples of rapprochement. Case study helps clarify understandings of this new form of partnership. Dynamics characterizing these organic partnerships include a deep respect for hermeneutical integrity; a desire to create a sense of place, rather than space; a transformative form of hospitality and a style of leadership that enables the different stakeholders to acquire and develop a sense of agency. Innovative frameworks clarifying these dynamics include ideas of postsecularity, progressive localism, smart pluralism, and enablement. Alongside terms like personal responsibility, passion and vision, usual in partnership vocabulary, the research uncovered a more nuanced and sophisticated lexicon. This includes terms such as autonomy, brokering and process enablers. Rapprochement primarily encapsulates a person’s love for their neighbour. Those engaged in these partnerships practise a welcome engendering inclusivity, which offers a fresh theological understanding of hospitality. It also suggests a distinct theological understanding of leadership, espousing a model that draws others in, helping them to discover their gifts and constantly expanding and sharing leadership. This strategic deinstitutionalized model of partnership offers the Established Church an opportunity to join with others and to show, through praxis and community engagement, God’s bias for the poor and his longing for their enablement.
  • The Governance of Shropshire During the Civil War and Interregnum 1642-1660

    Jones, Isabel (University of Chester, 2017-05)
    Often considered as an insignificant, sleepy, rural backwater, the county of Shropshire has attracted little academic interest, particularly concerning the period covering the civil war and Interregnum. Recent studies on the county have concentrated solely on the military aspect of the conflict and have not ventured into the Commonwealth and Protectorate years, nor looked at the administration and the internal politics of the shire. Yet in the first months of the war, the county was seen by Charles I as being vital to his success given its location on the Welsh border and with good transport links to the neighbouring Marcher counties. Shrewsbury was the main rallying point for the crown, and many of the local gentry flocked to the town with donations for the royal coffers. From then, up until 1645, most the county was held for the crown, until the fall of Shrewsbury in 1645 signalled an end to royalist dominance. This thesis is not an analysis of the causes of, or the actual events of, the war, as those matters are peripheral to this examination, being mentioned only briefly during the examination. It is, however, a full analysis of both county society and government, and will consider local issues, some of which had a wide-ranging effect, finances, justice and religion. But, most importantly, it will examine the personnel involved in both local and central government, how they changed over the period according to their allegiance and who was in power, and whether in the aftermath of war former royalists were welcomed back into the Commission of the Peace and other local committees to resume what they saw as being their rightful place in society. The academic study of the county is not a unique concept, having been promoted by Professor Alan Everitt in the 1960s in his study of Kent. In that research, Everitt proposed the concept of the county community, whereby the insular gentry were more interested in local affairs than national issues, and very much resented any interference from central government into what they considered was their domain. This thesis is not an attempt to try and slot Shropshire into that category, for Everitt’s argument has long been considered void. However, the basic framework of research into the county community that many academics have used in the past will be utilised to a certain extent, and the findings compared as much as possible with other neighbouring counties to try and ascertain whether there were any peculiarities within this Marcher society.
  • The divine warrior and cosmic catastrophe: the impact of the sibylline oracles on interpretation of Mark 13:24-25

    Middleton, Paul; Angel, Andy; McBay, Susannah E. (University of Chester, 2017-04)
    The meaning of cosmic catastrophe language (CCL) in Mark 13:24-25 is widely contested: both in regards to what type of language is used and to what event it refers, namely the fall of temple at Jerusalem in 70CE or the Parousia of Christ. Recent contributions from Marcus, Shively and Angel have identified the mythological background behind the language, but still interpret this mythology in different ways. In this thesis I elucidate the tradition behind CCL, specifically that of the Jewish Divine Warrior Tradition (DWT), to assess further its development in the Second Temple period and inform interpretations of Mark 13:24-25. Using a historical-critical, criterion-based approach, I demonstrate that the DWT is used in thirteen texts in the Sibylline Oracles and that this use expresses divine opinion and judgement upon political entities and spiritual powers that oppose God and his heavenly host. I also show that the DWT in Sib. Or. 3-5 incorporates elements from Stoic cosmological imagery, which was separated from the Stoic doctrine of ἐκπύρωσις with the advent and rise of Roman Stoicism. The result of this has various implications for navigating the interpretations of Mark 13:24-27 and I conclude that the cosmic catastrophe of vv.24-25 is best understood as describing the cosmic upheaval and demise of spiritual powers that relate to the temple and its leaders at the coming of the Divine Warrior.
  • An Examination of an Ongoing Process of Transition of an Older Generation Church to a Narrative Form of Preaching

    Wright, Stephen; Rich, Tony; Ford, Tim (University of Chester, 2017-06)
    Preaching remains central to the Evangelical Church tradition. This research examined whether the style of preaching in one such church could usefully be transitioned into another style which might be more widely helpful for congregants. Analysis of this church’s archives suggested a preaching pattern that tended towards a single style, often in ‘points’ and ‘sub-points’ irrespective of the literary genres of the biblical text preached upon. The style primarily conveyed information to the listeners and in varying degrees offered ‘application’ to their lives. The aim of the research was to examine whether a focus on the narrative of the Bible, from individual texts to the biblical meta-narrative, and setting this within the congregational life narratives, would offer a better and more varied style of preaching. The proposed preaching style emphasises engagement with the text rather than primarily offering information about it. Richard Osmer’s reflective cycle was adopted as the methodological framework for this thesis. The research was conducted within the church community and was largely a qualitative inquiry. Congregants reflected on past and present preaching, and on a series of sermons preached in a narrative style. The congregational research was then examined in the light of established homiletic literature. The main findings were a positive response to the new style, and unexpectedly that there was an interest in congregants being directly involved in sermons through interjections, particularly in offering life illustrations that relate to what the preacher is saying. This moves away from a preacher and hearer framework to that of the sermon being a shared event. As a result of the research a preaching model called ‘threefold narrativity’ is proposed in the thesis. This model allows for variations of the style of individual sermons within the model, and a means by which a preacher may monitor the balance of sermons is offered. Ways of implementing change in order to utilise this model were then considered, and a final meta-reflection of the process is made.
  • The Significance of Crucible Experiences in the Development of a Selection of Northern Irish and Other Evangelical Christian Leaders

    Wilson, John S. A. (University of Chester, 2016-10)
    Among terms used to describe the events and experiences that contribute to the shaping of leaders is Warren Bennis’ and Robert Thomas’ ‘crucibles’. Their use of the term emerged from a series of interviews with leaders who had come of age in two distinct eras: all the leaders interviewed referred to a transformative experience that had contributed to their leadership. The aim of this research was to explore the significance of such experiences in the development of Christian leaders. A sample of fourteen evangelical leaders was selected and each leader participated in an in-depth qualitative interview. Their experiences were classified using Robert Thomas’ three types of crucible: new territory, reversals and suspension. Analysis of the experiences demonstrated how crucible experiences had a part to play in shaping both the character and calling of a leader: at times crucibles functioned as intensified learning experiences in which a leader’s beliefs took on an existential intensity. The emerging themes of character and calling are significant in both Old and New Testaments and the project reflected theologically on these. While crucibles may be significant features in the development of a leader, they do not tell the whole story: a range of factors and influences, some of which work in a more gradual way, are also part of a leadership journey.
  • Unspeakable things unspoken. Otherness and victimisation in Judges 19-21: An Irigarayan reading.

    Firth, David G.; Hamley, Isabelle Maryvonne (University of Chester, 2017-07)
    It is June 2001, in a small church in deepest Arkansas. ‘Brother John’ is speaking at a youth service. The text he has chosen: Judges 19. ‘This is the story of a woman who left her husband. She disrespected authority and leaders. She got what she deserved. This is what will happen to you if you disobey your leaders.’ This is by far the worst sermon I have ever heard, and it started my journey with Judges 19-21. It is the only time I have ever heard this text referred to in public worship. There was nothing in my Christian journey until then that could have given me the skills to deal with that text, or that sermon. At the same time, it is a text that burrowed its way into my consciousness, because I have consistently worked with women (and men) who have experienced sexual abuse over the years. How can they read this text? Why is it there? In what sense can it be Scripture? While the text has been used oppressively, can it be read differently, and redeemed from oppressive interpretations? Has it got anything to offer, beyond a reading in memoriam?
  • The Perception and Impact of Countering Violent Extremism Programmes for Muslims in Sydney, Australia

    Scharbrodt, Oliver; McCaffrey, Claire (University of Chester, 2016-09)
    This thesis examines how the countering violent extremism initiatives implemented by the Australian government since 2011 have been received by Muslim communities in Sydney and the impact such measures have had, particularly, for those communities. Investigating the reception and impact of such initiatives both for and within Muslim communities, is vital in order to understand the scope of their reach and their efficiency. This thesis – addressing the lack of literature on this issue - will take the form of a case study of such programmes and their receipt by Muslim communities in Sydney, using primarily, qualitative research gathered through the use of semi-structured and unstructured interviews, as well as focus groups within Muslim communities in Sydney and policy reports gathered by both governmental and non-governmental bodies. Through an examination of the discourse adopted by the Howard government, in the period from 2001 to 2007, this study unearths and highlights the hostile, anti-Muslim environment in which the countering violent extremism measures were introduced. This environment was characterised by racism, negative stereotyping and vindication. Furthermore, through an analysis of this anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant narrative and discourse, the perceived threat posed by militant Islam to Australia and its interests constitutes both a process and discourse of securitisation by both the Howard government and the media. Data from fieldwork serves to evidence and reiterate the anti-Muslim undercurrent of Howard’s discourse maintaining the suspect community narrative and culminating in the securitisation of the Muslim population. The poor receipt of these measures by Muslim communities and the detrimental impact in terms of further marginalisation, alienation, and suspicion are testament to the counter-terror discourse and the growth in community based counter-terror measures.
  • Poietic Hermeneutics: Making local paths

    Baker, Christopher T. H.; Watson, Derrick L. (University of Chester, 2017-06)
    This thesis argues for poietic hermeneutics as a work of gathering and re-siting which intervenes in the local material-discursive site. This is an interruptive tactic of the local church, seeking the flourishing of here through transitory, non-hegemonic acts of re-making. In developing this tactic I draw a critique of a practical theology discourse which, I argue, masks acts of making, with a consequent loss of attentiveness to materiality and a normative commitment to the development of practices internal to the church and the practitioner.
  • Theology in a Local Church: An Ordinary Ecclesiology

    Morris, Wayne; Hoyland, John G. (University of Chester, 2017-01)
    Contemporary studies in ecclesiology cover a range of issues and contexts. Studies in ordinary theology also deal with a diversity of doctrines. There is, however, no substantial study of ordinary ecclesiology, that is, the understanding of church by ordinary members individually and by local churches congregationally. My personal and professional context is that of an ordained Anglican. In the light of this the study addresses this gap in knowledge by exploring the ordinary ecclesiology of a Church of England congregation. It is an example of an ordinary ecclesiology contributing a thick description (Geertz 1973) of a particular congregation to studies of church. The focus on ecclesiology is driven by issues raised in the literature review which demonstrate that the mainstream denominations in Britain face particular challenges such as numerical and influential decline. The study is based on a two year ethnographic study of a commuter village church in a united benefice of four churches. The ethnographic study, based on participation in and observation of the church on a weekly basis, includes interviews, conversations, a focus group and an examination of the written data generated in the church (web-site; publicity; church newsletters; magazines; documentation). This qualitative data is analysed using a form of interpretive dualism (Soja 1996) which emerged as an appropriate method during the research. Three binary pairings describing ways of thinking about church are used: instrumental – ontological; temporal – transcendent; patron – subscriber. The research demonstrates how this local church goes about theological thinking on the idea of church and reveals the content of that thinking. The study concludes that ordinary theology is present in the local church but that it is largely unacknowledged as such and is mainly a personal or individual enterprise. The implications of this are discussed. That discussion concludes that ordinary theology needs to be seen as the task of the whole λαός of God rather than the task of the laity and that in order to do this the local church needs to be re-imagined as a theological community where theological thinking is encouraged and resourced. This discussion centres on the importance of ecclesiology as a key doctrine in the Church of England’s contemporary context. The study therefore makes a contribution to knowledge by identifying and articulating what the ecclesiology of a local church looks like. It contributes to and challenges current practice by proposing rethinking the nature and purpose of the local church.
  • Transforming practical theological education in the changing context of non-confessional higher education

    Graham, Elaine L.; Stuerzenhofecker, Katja (University of Chester, 2016-10)
    This thesis is concerned with practical theological education in non-confessional higher education. If non-confessional Practical Theology is to take seriously its mandate to shape all of its students’ orientation and future actions regardless of their position vis-à-vis religion, it needs to respond to the increasingly diverse character of younger generations’ religiosity and the presence of non-Christian students. However, available studies of learning and teaching in Practical Theology, especially those originating in North America, predominantly focus on a Christian and clerical paradigm that is inappropriate for students of all faiths and none. Instead, I propose a reflexive process of formation in critical conversation with external norms and values. The development of this pedagogical reorientation requires an inductive study of participants’ positionalities. I welcome this as an exciting opportunity to move on from the Christian and clerical heritage with its concomitant process of formation through integration of external norms and values. My conceptual framework for this thesis is made up of four elements. The value of ‘prefiguring flourishing’ shapes my praxis in research and education. This leads me to adopt ‘Transforming Practice’ as the theoretical model for the design of my critical action research process. The hybrid positionality of ‘insider-outsider’ instead of a binary emerges from the research as a key concept that captures contemporary developments in religious identities, and affirms plurality and contingency in identity construction and group dynamics. This links to ‘rhizomatic fragments’ as conceptualisation of the ordering process in human life story construction, and in the research process and its presentation in the thesis. Based on this framework, I show how critical, reciprocal conversation between theological scholarship and alumni perceptions of long-term learning outcomes of my teaching practice can generate normative pedagogical principles for non-confessional PT while also prompting revision of theological concepts. The normative principles inform my student-focused reorientation of the model and aim of non-confessional PT, relevant curriculum, and appropriate learning, teaching and assessment. Secondly, I demonstrate how triangulation between these alumni-based normative principles, theological scholarship and autoethnography can contribute to the educator’s personal and professional development to realise their values more fully in their practice. This involves first deconstructing my past identity in theological education and vis-à-vis religion, and second reconstructing a confident future-oriented identity as theological educator.
  • A study of Matthew 8.16-17 seeing Jesus' healing as the fulfilment of Isaiah 53.4a through narrative analysis

    Clark, Mathew; Clay, Martin; Kwak, Woosong (University of Chester, 2017-05)
    The aim of this study is to explore the issue, whether or not Matthew in 8.16- 17 quotes Isaiah 53.4a as a proof-text without considering its context. This issue of the quotation has a great significance for two areas: hermeneutics and theology. First, the hermeneutical significance of the quotation is concerned with the issue, whether the intention and method of Matthew’s quotations of the Old Testament is a contextual approach or a non-contextual approach. Second, the theological significance of the quotation is connected to theoretical (dogmatic) and practical theology. Firstly, the significance for theoretical theology is concerned with the discussion of Matthean Christology: the identity of Jesus, the nature of his healing ministry; the provenance of his understanding of atonement. Particularly, the last one is crucial, for the whole Christian doctrine of Atonement depends on the answer to this problem. Secondly, the significance for practical theology is related to the discussion of “healing in the atonement” in Charismatic circles. This discussion can be progressed, only when it is shown that Matthew quotes Isaiah 53.4a in Matthew 8.16-17 with regard to its context, because this at least provides the basis for such a discussion. This study has attempted to treat the issue of the quotation by applying narrative analysis to Matthew 8.16-17 and the necessary part of Isaiah 52.13-53.12. This analysis includes semantic, linguistic philosophical, literary and theological explorations. With this analysis, this study has discovered an answer to the issue and some important findings, which are significant in terms of methodology, hermeneutics and theology. The answer provided by this study is that Matthew does not quote Isaiah 53.4a as a proof-text without considering the context. Rather, he, familiar with the context, quotes it in Matthew 8.16-17 in order to strategically affect the implied reader’s recognition of Jesus as, firstly, the suffering servant who is finally to offer himself as a guilt offering or a ransom, and secondly, as the Messiah. The findings are the significance of “prolepsis” in Matthew; the relationship between “ransom” lu,trον and “guilt offering” םשָ אָ ; complementary parallelism (the relationship between structure and meaning); the complementary structure of the “we” and “they” in the unfolding narrative of Isaiah 52.13-53.12; the death of the servant; and the relationship of “diseases” and “sufferings/sorrows” in 53.4a. All of these findings have enabled this study to trace the events of Jesus’ ministry and their underlying causes as far as possible to the depiction of the servant in Isaiah 52.13-53.12.

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