This interdisciplinary course will examine the phenomena of cults and totalitarian regimes - closed, hierarchical systems led by charismatic, authoritarian leaders. Using in-depth case studies, we will use a variety of theoretical approaches to understand these systems, in addition to reading narrative and literary accounts. We will explore the processes of recruitment, conversion, conformity, commitment and disaffiliation, with a particular emphasis on understanding the extreme obedience found in these systems. This course will examine commonalities between cults and totalitarian systems including: the effects on personal life and relationships, social networks, a shared absolute ideology, and charismatic relationship between leader and followers.
here to edit.