H.P. Blavatsky, theosophy, and nineteenth-century comparative religion

 

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dc.contributor.advisor Chidester, David en_ZA
dc.contributor.author Bester, Dewald en_ZA
dc.date.accessioned 2018-04-24T14:00:41Z
dc.date.available 2018-04-24T14:00:41Z
dc.date.issued 2018 en_ZA
dc.identifier.citation Bester, D. 2018. H.P. Blavatsky, theosophy, and nineteenth-century comparative religion. University of Cape Town. en_ZA
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/11427/27851
dc.description.abstract Although H. P. Blavatsky (1831-1891), co-founder of the Theosophical Society, has featured prominently in histories of Western esotericism, her engagement with late nineteenth-century comparative religion has not been appreciated. This thesis offers the first sustained analysis of H. P. Blavatsky's theosophical comparative religion. Despite the fact that one of the original goals of the Theosophical Society was advancing comparative religion, H. P. Blavatsky has been excluded from standard accounts of the field. This thesis draws on a range of theoretical resources - Richard Rorty's pragmatic theory of knowledge, Alun Munslow's analysis of narrative in history, Thomas Gieryn's critique of boundary-making in science, and Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison's history of objectivity - to argue for the inclusion of H. P. Blavatsky in the history of comparative religion. Substantial chapters analyse H. P. Blavatsky's major works, from Isis Unveiled (1877) to The Secret Doctrine (1888), to uncover the theoretical template that she developed for analysing religion and comparing religions. The thesis highlights H. P. Blavatsky's interpretative strategies in fashioning a theosophical comparative religion. In developing a comparative religion, H. P. Blavatsky referred to leading figures in the emerging field of the academic study of religion, such as F. Max Müller, E. B. Tylor, and Herbert Spencer, in positioning her theosophical comparative religion in the context of late nineteenth-century production of knowledge about religion and religions. This thesis demonstrates that H. P. Blavatsky's comparative religion was reasoned, literary, rhetorical, coherent, and strategic. By analysing H. P. Blavatsky's theoretical work on religion and religions in its late nineteenth-century context, this thesis contributes to the ongoing project of broadening our understanding of the complex and contested history of the study of religion. en_ZA
dc.language.iso eng en_ZA
dc.subject.other Religious Studies en_ZA
dc.title H.P. Blavatsky, theosophy, and nineteenth-century comparative religion en_ZA
dc.type Thesis / Dissertation en_ZA
uct.type.publication Research en_ZA
uct.type.resource Thesis en_ZA
dc.publisher.institution University of Cape Town
dc.publisher.faculty Faculty of Humanities en_ZA
dc.publisher.department Department of Religious Studies en_ZA
dc.type.qualificationlevel Doctoral en_ZA
dc.type.qualificationname PhD en_ZA
uct.type.filetype Text
uct.type.filetype Image


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