Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Religion & Culture / Religious Studies


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Christopher Ross

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


The thesis has two purposes. The first is to provide a biographical and theoretical introduction to Otto Rank. The second is to discuss a specific theme in Rank’s writings, namely his understanding of culture and cultural transition, with specific reference to what he deemed the transition from religion to psychology. The study begins with a short biography. It then proceeds to detail aspects of Rank’s theories that are important for an understanding of his theory of cultural transition. A conclusion offers speculations concerning the relevance of Rank’s theories for modern scholarship. The investigation of culture is a particularly complex and difficult task. Cultural manifestations are multifarious and span a time of many millennia. Through his psychological theory of the will, Rank attempted a novel interpretation of cultural phenomena. His emphasis on the psychological function of cultural expression paved the way for an understanding of continuity between even the most disparate culture forms. As a derivative of this understanding, Rank posited that the decline of traditional religion is to be explained as a natural product of increasing consciousness, and that this decline is paralleled by the rise of psychology as a new cultural voice.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season