IST 3053, Religion and Film
In this course, students explore the interactions of religion and film. Learning goals include demonstrating:
All Students :
The assigned films are listed in the syllabus and in the course calendar below. You will need to have access to the assigned films and view them outside of class. All of the films, which will be our primary texts for discussion and analysis, are available through Netflix. For most students, this is the easiest way to have reliable access to the films. These films are not usually available through Netflix for live streaming, so you will need to have – at least for a few months - a plan that allows for mail delivery of a DVD. They are also available from a variety of other rental sources, some you may even find on YouTube. But be cautious, downloads from free sites sometimes come with a virus and usually raise copyright infringement issues. I encourage you to use Netflix or another source with clear rights to distribute the film.
Even if you have seen a film in the past, please view each film in the week or two before the class discussion so that your impressions are fresh. It will strongly increase your ability to analyze the films if you see them more than once. In some cases, there are several films available with similar titles so pay attention to the directors and dates to be sure you come to class ready to discuss the appropriate film.
David Bordwell, Kirstin Thompson, and Jeff Smith, Film Art , 12 th Edition, (2020) New York: McGraw Hill. The classic introduction to film study is lavishly illustrated and the examples and arguments are regularly updated. It is a bit pricy, depending on format it can run as high as $125.00. You will find cheaper used, or text-book rental copies of the current edition. An even cheaper option is to get the 11th Edition. Your pagination won’t quite match what I have listed, and you won’t get some updates, but it is fine to get the cheaper 11 th edition. If you shop online, you should be able to get a good used or digital copy in the range of $30.00.
Jolyon Mitchell and S. Brent Plate, The Religion and Film Reader (RFR) (2007) New York: Routledge. ($39.33) Key historical and contemporary essays on the relationship between religion and film from diverse cultures and religions. Includes writings by film critics and theorists, religious leaders, and religious and theological studies scholars. $40.00.
Plus, some essays and reviews, links provided in Canvas.
Doctoral Students (In addition to the books above):
Lyden, John C., Film as Religion: Myths, Morals and Rituals , 2 nd edition (2019) NY: New York University Press. Builds a Geertzian definition of religion rooted in understandings of myth and ritual, and argues that film should be understood as a form of religion (not simply as another form of social discourse in dialogue with religion) and suggests that understandings of interreligious dialogue provide a model for the discussion of the interaction of film and more traditional forms of religion. Part Two applies the method developed to a series of popular genres. No attention is given to films overtly about religion. The updates are significant, get the 2 nd edition. $25.00
Martin, Joel W., and Conrad E. Ostwalt Jr. Screening the Sacred: Religion, Myth and Ideology in Popular American Film , Boulder: Westview Press, 1995. Draws distinctions between theological criticism rooted in Christian assumptions, mythic criticism rooted in cross-cultural archetypal studies, and ideological criticism which explores how myths affect society – with particular attention to race, class, and gender. $27.00
Note: Unless otherwise noted, the costs for books given above are for paperbacks ordered through Amazon. There are typically also Kindle versions and used copies available for these texts.
Click on the syllabus for information about assignments and a calendar of screenings, readings, and topics. Click on the grading rubric for further direction on expectations, points, and grades.
Navigating this Canvas Course:
The Canvas site makes accessing course information fairly simple.
Click on the syllabus above for a downloadable description of class assignments,
grades and expectations, and a day-by-day outline of the course. All the class sessions,
and links to post assignments, etc, appear below in the Course Summary. Thus they will
turn up in your personal calendar . You can click on those links at any time, responses are due
by the end of the day that the activity appears in the calendar. Together, the syllabus and
the calendar should give you access to everything you need for the class.
I will communicate with you in a variety of ways. In addition to posting
short video comments, I will participate in the discussions, provide a brief individual
response at the end of each week, comment on your assignments and make
class announcements that will come to your email. Canvas allows you to respond to
feedback, announcements, and so forth. However, it is not always clear to me
that you have done so. I encourage you to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a timely
response. I am always happy to set a time for a phone or Zoom call.
|Jan 05, 2021||Tue||Introductions and Syllabus review||due by 06:59AM|
|Jan 06, 2021||Wed||Discussion, Film Art, Chapter One "Film as Art: Creativity, Technology, and Business"||due by 06:59AM|
|Jan 07, 2021||Thu||Reading Discussion: Religion and Film Reader (RFR) Wright, "Religion and Film"||due by 06:59AM|
|Jan 08, 2021||Fri||Viewing Discussion: "Calvary"||due by 06:59AM|
|Jan 09, 2021||Sat||Return to the week's discussion||due by 06:59AM|
|Jan 13, 2021||Wed||Religion and Film, Zoom Call, 1:00 - 2:15PM (Mountain Standard Time)||due by 06:59AM|
|Jan 14, 2021||Thu||Reading Discussion: Schrader on Diary of a Country Priest and Bird "Film as Hierophany"||due by 06:59AM|
|Jan 15, 2021||Fri||Viewing Discussion: Of God's and Men||due by 06:59AM|
|Jan 16, 2021||Sat||Return to the week's discussion||due by 06:59AM|
|Jan 20, 2021||Wed||Reading Discussion: Film Art, Chapter 2, "The Significance of Film Form"||due by 06:59AM|
|Jan 21, 2021||Thu||Reading Discussion: The Dawn of Cinema - Advocates and Detractors||due by 06:59AM|
|Jan 22, 2021||Fri||Viewing Discussion, "Jesus of Montreal"||due by 06:59AM|
|Jan 23, 2021||Sat||Return to the week's discussion||due by 06:59AM|
|Jan 27, 2021||Wed||Reading Discussion: Film Art, Chapter 3, "Narrative Form"||due by 06:59AM|
|Jan 28, 2021||Thu||Reading and Discussion: RFR, Wisenfeld, "Projecting Blackness"||due by 06:59AM|
|Jan 29, 2021||Fri||Viewing Discussion, Hallelujah!||due by 06:59AM|
|Jan 30, 2021||Sat||Return to the week's discussion||due by 06:59AM|
|Feb 03, 2021||Wed||Religion and Film, Zoom meeting, 1:00 to 2:15PM (Mountain Standard Time)||due by 06:59AM|
|Feb 04, 2021||Thu||Close Analysis of "Babette's Feast"||due by 06:59AM|
|Feb 04, 2021||Thu||Reading Discussion: Film Art, Chapter 4, "The Shot: Mise-en-Scene"||due by 06:59AM|
|Feb 05, 2021||Fri||Viewing Discussion, Babette's Feast||due by 06:59AM|
|Feb 06, 2021||Sat||Return to the week's discussion||due by 06:59AM|
|Feb 10, 2021||Wed||Reading Discussion: Film Art, Chapter 5, "The Shot: Cinematography"||due by 06:59AM|
|Feb 11, 2021||Thu||Reading Discussion: RFR Martin, "Religion, Myth, and Ideology ..." and Doctoral Student Presentation||due by 06:59AM|
|Feb 12, 2021||Fri||Viewing Discussion, Dekalog, episode 1, "Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods"||due by 06:59AM|
|Feb 13, 2021||Sat||Return to the week's discussion||due by 06:59AM|
|Feb 17, 2021||Wed||Reading Discussion: Film Art, Chapter 6, "The Relationship of Shot to Shot: Editing"||due by 06:59AM|
|Feb 18, 2021||Thu||View and Discuss: Brief Intros to Islam||due by 06:59AM|
|Feb 19, 2021||Fri||View and Discuss: Children of Heaven||due by 06:59AM|
|Feb 20, 2021||Sat||Return to the week's discussion||due by 06:59AM|
|Feb 24, 2021||Wed||Zoom Session, 1:00 to 2:15 MST||due by 06:59AM|
|Feb 25, 2021||Thu||Reading and Discussion: Film Art, Chapter 8, "Summary: Style and Film Form"||due by 06:59AM|
|Feb 26, 2021||Fri||View and Discuss: A Separation||due by 06:59AM|
|Feb 27, 2021||Sat||Return to the week's discussion||due by 06:59AM|
|Mar 03, 2021||Wed||Doctoral student presentation and reading discussion: Lyden, Film as Religion||due by 06:59AM|
|Mar 04, 2021||Thu||View and Discuss: Brief intros to Buddhism||due by 06:59AM|
|Mar 04, 2021||Thu||Reading and Discussion: RFR Cho, "Imagining Nothing and Imagining Otherness in Buddhist Films"||due by 06:59AM|
|Mar 05, 2021||Fri||View and Discuss: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter ... and Spring||due by 06:59AM|
|Mar 06, 2021||Sat||Upload Research Paper||due by 06:59AM|
|Mar 06, 2021||Sat||Return to the week's discussion||due by 06:59AM|
|Mar 10, 2021||Wed||View and Discuss: The Big Lebowski||due by 06:59AM|
|Mar 12, 2021||Fri||Closing Discussion||due by 06:59AM|