REL 124.001

Religion & Film in America

T, R | 3:30-5:50 pm

Lloyd 329

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Religious language, themes, and rituals appear with surprising frequency in contemporary American films. How does an awareness of this religious dimension in a work of “popular culture” affect our interpretation of its meaning? What do these often subtle traces of religion suggest about the American character? And what does the broad popularity of these films say about the nature of being “religious” in America? These are the kinds of questions we will explore together in Religious Studies 124. We will focus on the enduring dialogue (or “debate,” or even “culture war”) between American culture and religious identity, or-in the language of the religious studies discipline-between the sacred and the profane. Our basic “texts” will be six films that have achieved box office or video rental success during the last twenty years. Our conversations about these films will be supplemented with careful readings of religious, cultural, and literary scholarship. The class will be conducted mainly as a seminar; it will also include occasional brief lectures.

Theodore Louis Trost

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Bruce Willis with a glowing red eye, from the film 12 Monkeys


Klassen, Chris
Religion & Popular Culture
Oxford University Press, 2014

Clark, Terry R.
Understanding Religion & Popular Culture
Routledge, 2012

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