AAR Annual Meeting
November 18-21, 2017
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This Unit offers a forum for theory and methodology of the visual for those interested in the interdisciplinary study of religion, film, and visual culture. There is no single way to study religion and the visual, and we expect scholars to provide new perspectives on the way we understand visual culture and to provide this understanding through traditional and emerging methodologies.
The Religion, Film, and Visual Culture Unit invites proposals on the following topics. Please note that we strongly encourage the use of visual media in presentations and ask that all proposals indicate whether (and how) visuals will be used. We also ask that proposals be clear about their theoretical and methodological approaches/perspectives.
• Stranger Things
We seek proposals that reflect on religion in relation to the original Netflix series, Stranger Things. Proposals may involve any notion of “religion” as it connects to the series’ story/text as well as to its aesthetic/production aspects (visuals, music, sound, editing, etc.). We also encourage proposals on the series that consider the impact of new viewing platforms on religion and visual culture, [i.e., the shift from broadcast to narrowcast (watching video through streaming media on portable devices rather than on broadcast television or in movie theaters)]. Note: proposals would necessarily involve only season 1 of Stranger Things, but as season 2 will be out before the AAR’s Annual Meeting in Boston we would like to see references to it as well in the final presentations.
• Superheroes and Mortality
The Death, Dying, and Beyond Unit and the Religion, Film, and Visual Culture Unit are looking to mount a co-sponsored panel on "Superheroes and Mortality." The emphasis for this session would be on the superhero genre (in comic books, film, television, or affiliated media) and issues of mortality, mourning, funeral rites, the hereafter, resurrection, reincarnation, thanatology, and eschatology. Submitters are encouraged to take the theme literally (i.e., we are not asking for figurative "superheroes" nor metaphorical "death”). Proposals reaching beyond the English-speaking U.S. market are especially welcome.
• Visual Culture and Vulnerability
How does visual culture (all forms: film, photography, social media, graphic art, television, etc.) relate to religion and situations of social and/or personal vulnerability? In what ways does visual culture function to construct notions of vulnerability? How does it appear to empower those who are vulnerable in some sense? How does it make them even more vulnerable? We are interested in proposals that explore these and related questions regarding recent visual culture productions. Relevant examples from 2016 would include the films Moonlight and Loving, social media involving the Dakota Access Pipeline protests at Standing Rock, Third Cinema, images and videos from white nationalist/“alt-right” groups, and the television production of Hairspray, live.