• The Effects of Superstition on Stress Levels and the Relationship between Superstition and Religion

      Lasikiewicz, Nicola; Roddy, Siobhan (University of Chester, 2016)
      Beliefs in paranormal phenomena have often been divided into various subcategories, with superstition and religion being the two subcategories to be scientifically studied. Current research on superstition has shown that there is an important relationship between stress and superstition. Research has led to conclusions that superstitious beliefs increase in times of stress, enhance performance and even help reduce feelings of stress (Keinan, 1994; Keinan, 2002, Langer, 197; Teo & Lasikiewicz, 2015). Additionally, many studies have suggested there is an important relationship between religion and superstition, indicating both positive and negative relationships. To gain more insight into these relationships, 28 participants between the ages of 18 and 71 with an average age of 35 took part in a cognitive experiment. They were placed into four conditions with 7 participants in each. The experiment utilised a Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) and five self-report questionnaires. The results investigating superstition and stress found two significant results. One showed that there was an increase in state anxiety (STAI) over time during the experiment, and the second revealed that participants in the no-stress condition with a lucky pen had significantly higher heart rates (HR) than those in the no-stress condition without the lucky pen. Additionally the results revealed no significant correlations between religion and superstition. Although the results found no conclusive evidence to support the hypotheses, the significant results suggest there may be a relationship between stress and superstition, and the results of religion and superstition highlight how experimental improvements may be required in further research.
    • From breaking news to broken communities: How does the representation of religion in local media contribute to maintaining or extending social cohesion in segregated communities?

      Graham, Elaine L.; Lees, Rebecca (University of Chester, 2017-01)
      Research suggests that Muslims in Britain have been, and continue to be represented and portrayed less favourably to other religions in mainstream media particularly within the print press, on a local and national scale (Knott, Poole, Tairu, 2013, Poole, 2009). This dissertation critically analyses how religion, specifically Christianity and Islam have been represented in the local media and to what extent this representation has had an impact on the maintaining or extending of social cohesion within Burnley; a town where segregation is apparent and integration is a challenge. Data collected through the application of content analysis and critical discourse analysis to two newspapers from 2001 to 2015 shows the patterns and trends in representation over a substantial period of time, whereby the community they serve became increasingly diverse with each Census. Findings from the research suggest that Christianity was referenced more times than Islam and more positively. However, significant changes to the practice of the press over the fourteen years resulted in the inclusion of more Muslim voices contributing to the enhanced religious literacy of the press. Recommendations for further research to add to this dissertation have been made in addition to enhancements to the practice of the local print media.
    • ‘The matrix of all problems’: Stephen King’s marriage of fundamentalism and the monstrous-feminine as social critique

      Ackers, Jenny L. (University of Chester, 2013-09)
      The place of women in society has long been decried by their place in religion – at least according to horror novelist Stephen King. Indeed, the release of first novel Carrie (1974) was the beginnings of an avid interest in both religion and gender stereotyping, the latter of which the author has been accused of utilising for horrific effect. Yet, this unison of themes is more complex than this. Certainly, these thematic concerns become the means with which King interrogates religious extremism and the conditions which cultivate such devotion; the novel succeeded in exposing the cataclysmic aftermath of a childhood so governed and restricted by militant Puritanism as to metamorphose Carrie White from a wholesome, all-American teen into an ardent evangelist responsible for a town massacre and the murder of her mother. However, utilisation of the fundamentalist agenda within this novel and later releases becomes the means with which King critiques both the archaic notions of the sin of femininity upheld within Christianity, and crucially, how and why such conceptions still pervade modern-day culture. In particular, King turns ‘his women’ monstrous because of their adherence to roles placed upon them by the conservative – even oppressive – conception of gender found within fundamentalist discourse; monstrous when they succeed in following such ideals – and monstrous when they do not – King also suggests that the origins and perpetuation of the image of the monstrous-feminine are far more sewn into the fabric of US society than its citizens would care to admit. This study will thus focus upon the methods of control found within fundamentalist ideology and how they presume to demarcate boundaries which dictate appropriate behaviour for women. Analyses of the monstrous-feminine within later novels will also demonstrate King’s motivation for marrying religion and the woman-as-horror scenario, and will be highlighted as not simply a mechanism within King’s oft-used toolbox of terror, but as the mechanism with which he turns the spotlight on both fundamentalism - and an avidly patriarchal society still struggling to maintain a hold over women.
    • The relationship between Samuel Wilberforce and William Ewart Gladstone, 1835-73, with special reference to contemporary religious issues

      Swift, Roger; Whitehouse, Graham (University of Liverpool (University of Chester), 2010-12)
      This thesis examines the private and public relationship between Samuel Wilberforce and William Ewart Gladstone, who became great friends between 1835 and 1873. Wilberforce (1805-1873), who became Bishop of Oxford in 1845, was an outstanding preacher and diocesan, an effective speaker in parliament, and the best known Anglican clergyman of his time. Gladstone (1809-1898), who became Liberal prime minister on four occasions, was the most fervently religious prime minister of the Victorian period. The thesis is divided into two parts. Part One examines the nature and development of the private friendship between Wilberforce and Gladstone. Chapter One describes their early lives and the start of their friendship in the mid-1830s. The two men had much in common; they both came from devoutly Evangelical backgrounds, yet both became High Churchmen; both their fathers were Tory Members of Parliament, and both went to Oxford University. Chapter Two examines the consolidation of their friendship from the 1840s until Wilberforce's death in 1873. It shows their mutual respect and admiration, and enjoyment of one another's company. Their friendship reflected sympathetic and empathic responses to various family crises, including the defection of some of Wilberforce's relatives to Roman Catholicism, and the deaths of close friends and relatives. Wilberforce's ambitions for promotion were thwarted, but Gladstone was able to appoint him to the venerable bishopric of Winchester in 1869. Gladstone was clearly distraught by Wilberforce's sudden death in 1873 and fulsomely eulogised his friend. Part Two examines the public relationship between Wilberforce and Gladstone, with particular reference to contemporary religious issues in which they shared a mutual interest. Chapter Three examines the response of Wilberforce and Gladstone to problems faced by the Church of England during the mid-Victorian period, including the divisions between Evangelicals and High Churchmen, Tractarianism, Ritualism, the Broad Church and various other doctrinal disputes. On these and other issues the two friends frequently acted in tandem. Wilberforce and Gladstone both argued with the protagonists of Darwinism in the debate on Evolutional Theory, which challenged Christian belief. Chapter Four examines the views of Gladstone and Wilberforce on the difficult relationship between Church and State during the mid-Victorian period, and explores, by reference to the Hampden controversy, the Gorham Judgement, the re-establishment of Convocation and Papal Aggression, the extent to which they were mutually supportive. Finally, Chapter Five considers the parliamentary roles of Wilberforce and Gladstone regarding ecclesiastical legislation, where they frequently co-operated in the promotion of, and support for measures including the development of an independent Colonial Church and regulation of the Anglican clergy. Whilst Gladstone's aim to disestablish the Church of Ireland was initially opposed by Wilberforce, he came to accept it as a decision of the electorate and was instrumental in persuading the English and Irish bishops not to oppose the legislation promoting disestablishment in 1869. The parliamentary co-operation between Wilberforce and Gladstone also extended to some social legislation, including the question of divorce and the extension of elementary educational provision in 1870. In summary, this original thesis offers the first detailed examination of the relationship between Samuel Wilberforce and William Gladstone - a relationship hitherto largely ignored by historians - and argues that theirs was a true and enduring friendship which equated with Aristotle's criteria forphilia, despite differences in their personalities and occasional differences of opinion, and which also extended to mutual co-operation and support in their public lives.