The major objection to the orthodox Marxist analysis of culture and religion is not that it is wrong, but that it is too narrow, rigid and dogmatic. It views popular culture and religion only as instruments of domination, vehicles of pacification. It sees only their negative and repressive elements … [and] refuses to acknowledge the positive, liberating aspects of popular culture and religion, and their potential for fostering structural social change.
Cornel West, Prophecy Deliverance!
In this course, we explore the interactions between religion and popular culture within a modern mass-mediated culture. The constructions of popular culture (mass-market storytelling, sports, music, etc.) and the activity of the audience (fandom and other forms of participation) are examined as forms of meaning-making and cultural interpretation which may incorporate, challenge, change or replace traditional religion and its practices . One immediate example will be the ways that popular culture explores the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police and the resulting widespread national protests.
Contacting the Instructor : Emailing me at email@example.com or messaging me through Canvas are the best way to reach me outside of class. I try to respond within 24 hours, though I don't usually respond over the weekend. I am happy to make an appointment to meet in Zoom, or by phone. JHM
Forbes, Bruce David and Jeffrey H. Mahan, Eds. Religion and Popular Culture in America: Third Edition. Berkley: University of California Press, 2017. (Please note that we will read and discuss essays not included in earlier editions.)
(Choose one of the following:
Sophia Rose Arjana, Veiled Superheros: Islam, Feminism and Popular Culture, Lanham: Lexington Books, 2019. (Examines Muslim female superheroes such as Ms Marvel and the 99 to explore the realities of Muslim life from an anti-colonial, feminist perspective.) Group presentation, Thurs, Oct 8.
Or, Klassen, Chris, Religion and Popular Culture: A Cultural Studies Approach, Ontario: Oxford University Press, 2014. (Popular culture and its interactions with religion as cultural evidence. Explores how attention to race, class, and gender and attention to dominant and subcultures can help understand popular images of religion.) Group presentation Tues, Oct 13.
Or, Juan M. Floyd-Thomas, Stacey M. Floyd Thomas, and Mark G. Toulouse, The Altars Where We Worship: The Religious Significance of Popular Culture, Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2016. Group presentation, Wed, Oct 14. (Examines the religious dimensions of six specific aspects of American culture—body and sex, big business, entertainment, politics, sports, and science and technology—that function as "altars" where Americans gather to worship and produce meaning for their lives. )
All these books are available from Amazon or other sources. Please be sure to order in plenty of time.
Religion and Popular Culture in America and your one supplemental book are the only books you need to buy. There are other articles or book chapters assigned. For them, pdf docs have been posted in the week that we will discuss the reading.
Aichele, George and Richard Walsh, eds., Screening Scripture: Intertextual Connections between Scripture. Trinity Press, 2002.
Baugh, Lloyd, Imagining the Divine: Jesus and Christ-Figures in Film. Kansas City: Sheed and Ward, 1997.
Clark, Terry Ray and Dan W. Clanton, Jr., eds., Understanding Religion and Popular Culture, London: Routledge, 2012.
Dyson, Michael Eric, Between God and Gangsta Rap: Bearing Witness to Black Culture. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.
Evans, Christopher Hodge and William R. Herzog, The Faith of 50 Million: Baseball, Religion and American Culture. Presbyterian Publishing Corp, 2002.
Flesher, Paul V., and Robert Torry, Film & Religion, Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2007.
Forshey, Gerald, American Religious and Biblical Spectaculars, Westport: Praeger, 1992.
Frykholm, Amy Johnson, Rapture Culture: Left Behind in Evangelical America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.
Garrett, Greg, Entertaining Judgement: The Afterlife in Popular Imagination, New York, Oxford University Press, 2015.
Goethals, Gregor, The Electronic Golden Calf. Cambridge: Cowley Publications, 1990.
Jewett, Robert, Saint Paul at the Movies. Louisville: Westminister/John Known Press, 1993.
Johnson, Robert K., Reel Spirituality: Theology and Film in Dialogue. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2000.
Klassen, Chris, Religion and Popular Culture: A Cultural Studies Approach, Ontario: Oxford University Press, 2014.
Lyden, John C., Film as Religion: Myths, Morals and Rituals, NY: New York University Press, 2003.
MacDannell, Colleen, Material Christianity (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1995.
Mazur, Eric Michael and Kate McCarthy, God in the Details: American Religion in Popular Culture. New York: Routledge, 2001.
Miller, Vincent J., Consuming Religion: Christian Faith and Practice in a Consumer Culture, New York: Continum, 2009.
Morgan, David, Visual Piety. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.
Morgan, David, (2007) The Lure of Images: A history of religion and visual media in America. New York: Routledge.
Nachbar, Jack & Kevin Lause, eds. Popular Culture: An Introductory Text. Bowling Green, The Popular Press, 1992.
Pinn, Anthony B. Noise and Spirit: The Religious and Spiritual Sensibilities of Rap Music. New York: New York University Press, 2003.
Pinsky, Mark I. The Gospel According to the Simpsons: The Spiritual Life of the World’s Most Animated Family. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001.
Mitchell, Jolyon and S. Brent Plate, The Religion and Film Reader. New York: Routledge, 2007.
Romanowski, William D., Eyes Wide Open: Looking For God in Popular Culture. Grand Rapids: Brazos Books, 2001.
Sample, Tex, White Soul: Country Music, the Church and Working Americans. Nashville: Abingdon, 1996.
Schultze, Quentin J., Redeeming Television. Downers Grove: Intervarsity, 1992.
Scott, Bernard Brandon, Hollywood Dreams & Biblical Stories. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1994.
Wagner, Rachel, Godwired: Religion, Ritual and Virtual Reality, London: Routledge, 2012.
Ward, Pete, Gods Behaving Badly: Media, Religion and Celebrity Culture, Waco: Baylor University Press, 2012.
Weisenfeld, Judith, Hollywood Be Thy Name: African American Religion in American Film, 1929 – 1949. Berkley: University of California Press, 2007.
Late Work: Late work will be down graded and will not receive a grade in the A range. Please contact the instructor in advance of the due date if circumstances suggest you cannot submit on time.
Incomplete Policy: Students who believe their situation justifies it may apply for an incomplete following the process outlined in the Masters Student Handbook.
Notification of Academic Integrity Standards: (from the Iliff Master’s Student Handbook) Academic integrity lies at the foundation of academic progress. Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, acts of fraud and deception on an examination or class assignment, acts of forgery or unauthorized alteration of any official academic record or document and attempt to gain credit for work that one has plagiarized from the work of another person. Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated in this course or any other at Iliff School of Theology and there are serious consequences to students who engage in it. For more information on these and other rules regarding academic progress at Iliff consult the Master’s Student Handbook available on My Iliff.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): Iliff engages in a collaborative effort with students with disabilities to reasonably accommodate student needs. Students are encouraged to contact their assigned advisor to initiate the process of requesting accommodations. The advising center can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 303-765-1146.
Technology Issues : If you need assistance with Canvas email, contact email@example.com or call them at 303-909-9321. Please leave a message and the staff will get back to you as soon as possible. They are typically available 8:30AM - 7:00ish in the Mountain Time Zone.
|Sep 16, 2020||Wed||Introductions||due by 05:59AM|
|Sep 16, 2020||Wed||Instructor remarks, What is popular culture and what does popular culture have to do with religion?||due by 05:59AM|
|Sep 17, 2020||Thu||Discussion of Forbes, (RPCA) "Introduction:Finding Religion in Unexpected Places"||due by 05:59AM|
|Sep 19, 2020||Sat||Return to, and extend, the discussion||due by 05:59AM|
|Sep 23, 2020||Wed||Discussion, Chidester (RPCA) "The Church of Baseball, The Fetish of Coca-Cola, and the Potlatch of Rock-an-Roll"||due by 05:59AM|
|Sep 24, 2020||Thu||Instructor remarks, The Social Function of Popular Culture||due by 05:59AM|
|Sep 24, 2020||Thu||Choose your Additional Reading||due by 05:59AM|
|Sep 25, 2020||Fri||Zoom Session||due by 05:59AM|
|Sep 26, 2020||Sat||Return to the week's discussion||due by 05:59AM|
|Sep 30, 2020||Wed||Reading and Discussion of Mahan, "Celluloid Savior"||due by 05:59AM|
|Oct 01, 2020||Thu||Post your Research and Application Proposal||due by 05:59AM|
|Oct 02, 2020||Fri||Reading and Discussion, Morgan, "Reading the Face of Jesus"||due by 05:59AM|
|Oct 03, 2020||Sat||Return to the week's discussion||due by 05:59AM|
|Oct 07, 2020||Wed||Reading and Discussion, Hulsether "Like a Sermon"||due by 05:59AM|
|Oct 08, 2020||Thu||Reading and Discussion, hooks, "Madonna: Plantation Mistress or Soul Sister"||due by 05:59AM|
|Oct 09, 2020||Fri||Discussion, Types and Stereotypes||due by 05:59AM|
|Oct 10, 2020||Sat||Return to the week's discussion||due by 05:59AM|
|Oct 14, 2020||Wed||Discussion, (RPCA) Section Intro, Religion in Popular Culture and Iwamura, "The Oriental Monk"||due by 05:59AM|
|Oct 15, 2020||Thu||Discuss (RPCA) Arjana, "Monstrous Muslims"||due by 05:59AM|
|Oct 15, 2020||Thu||Zoom Session||due by 04:30PM|
|Oct 17, 2020||Sat||Return to the week's discussion||due by 05:59AM|
|Oct 21, 2020||Wed||Supplemental Reading Presentation and Discussion, Altars Where we Worship, Presentation 1||due by 05:59AM|
|Oct 22, 2020||Thu||Supplemental Reading Presentation and Discussion, Altars Where we Worship, Presentation 2||due by 05:59AM|
|Oct 23, 2020||Fri||Supplemental Reading Presentation and Discussion, Religion and Popular Culture: A Cultural Studies Approach||due by 05:59AM|
|Oct 24, 2020||Sat||Return to the week's discussion||due by 05:59AM|
|Oct 28, 2020||Wed||Read and discuss, (RPCA) Intro, Popular Culture in Religion, (RPCA) Peterson and Echchaibi, “Mipsterz: Hip, American, and Muslim”||due by 05:59AM|
|Oct 30, 2020||Fri||Discussion: Covid 19/Social Media/Religious Practice||due by 05:59AM|
|Oct 31, 2020||Sat||Return to the week's discussion||due by 05:59AM|
|Nov 07, 2020||Sat||Return to the week's discussion||due by 06:59AM|
|Nov 12, 2020||Thu||Read and discuss: (RPCA) Brehm and Rees, "Mirror, Mirror on Ourselves: Disney as a Site of Religio-Cultural Dialogue"||due by 06:59AM|
|Nov 13, 2020||Fri||Zoom Session||due by 05:30AM|
|Nov 13, 2020||Fri||Post your Research Paper||due by 06:59AM|
|Nov 14, 2020||Sat||Return to the week's discussion||due by 06:59AM|
|Nov 18, 2020||Wed||Discussion, Forbes, "Christmas is Like a Snowball"||due by 06:59AM|
|Nov 20, 2020||Fri||Post your Application Project||due by 06:59AM|
|Nov 21, 2020||Sat||Return to the week's discussion||due by 06:59AM|