The Devil’s in the Detail: an Ethnovella Approach to Teaching in New Religious Movements

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Manypeney, Amanda (2014) The Devil’s in the Detail: an Ethnovella Approach to Teaching in New Religious Movements. Research Master thesis, Victoria University.


This study critically and creatively appraises the pedagogical complexities of being an outsider teacher within a New Religious Movement. There are two sections in this study: a critical exegesis (42%) and an original fictionalised section (58%). The latter, called an ethnovella, depicts a first-person account of Anna, a conflicted teacher, who relates her negotiations of the educational situations that arose during her work within a closed rural community. In both the ethnovella and exegesis, key areas of difference and ties between the outsider teacher and students of the closed community are highlighted, and pedagogical strategies for adapting to a strictly codified environment are investigated. The purpose of this work is to expand scholarly knowledge in order to achieve three major outcomes: to better inform and prepare educators faced with similar scenarios; to provide a new Australian study which can be used comparatively and reflectively by education researchers; and to challenge the media-driven stigma associated with sects as dangerous “cults” rather than longstanding religious communities. The ethnovella portion of the study methodologically adopts the Creative Analytical Practice approach outlined by Laurel Richardson (2000) and justifies the juxtaposition of the creative with the analytical. The exegesis also critically positions one New Religious Movement (NRM) among the others that have received scholarly attention, and offers critique of studies that lack direct interaction or extend existing polemic. It is this aspect of the work that makes it a fresh and valuable contribution to the fields of sociology and education, where knowledge about NRMs and education is dated and limited.

Additional Information

Currently under embargo.
Master of Education.

Item type Thesis (Research Master thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy
Historical > FOR Classification > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > College of Education
Keywords novellas, fiction, closed community education, rural education, ethnography, relationships, professional role of teachers, Australia
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