PAPERS Resources

AAR Annual Meeting
Denver, CO
November 17-20, 2018

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Religion, Film, and Visual Culture Unit

Statement of Purpose: 

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.

Call for Papers: 

This Unit offers a forum 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 encourage scholars to provide new perspectives on the theories and methodologies we use to understand visual culture and religion.

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, and particularly welcome submissions from perspectives other than Christian and/or Eurocentric ones:

• Migration and Visuality
We invite papers that explore visuality and the margins of Empire, including considerations of migrants and migrations from zones that are traditionally neglected in academic and public conversations, such as the Caribbean, Africa and East Asia. We encourage papers that deal with the ways in which migrants and colonized religious "others" are depicted in film and other forms of visual culture (television, photography, graphic art, graffiti, clothing, etc.). How do visual media affect the ways in which we understand these people and events? Any papers related to these themes as well as broader issues of colonialism and postcolonialism in relation to visual culture are invited. Co-sponsored with the Religion, Colonialism, and Postcolonialism Unit and the Religion, Film, and Visual Culture Unit.

• A Wrinkle in Time
We invite proposals on Ava DuVernay’s upcoming film adaptation A Wrinkle in Time, and other visual adaptations of young adult fiction. Papers may examine religion in these works in relation to various topics/issues, including (for example) race, gender, vulnerability, humor, pedagogy, agency, and ideology. Co-sponsored with the Childhood Studies and Religion Unit and the Religion, Film, and Visual Culture Unit.

• Subversive Filmmaking and Race
How are filmmakers using their medium to ignite discussions about – and critiques of – race and racism? We invite proposals that investigate subversive treatments of race and religion in the films of artists such as Jeff Barnaby, Ryan Coogler, Guillermo del Toro, Ava Duvernay, Chris Eyre, Spike Lee, Pablo Larraín, Lucrecia Martel, Alanis Obomsawin, Jordan Peele, Ivan Sen, Justin Simien, Tala Hadid, Faouzi Bensaidi, Haifaa al-Mansour, Nadine Labaki, and Taika Waititi.

• Religion, Comedy, and Marginality in Television
Several television comedies over the past few years have involved varied and explicit treatments of religion, particularly in relation to questions of marginalization and inclusion (as these questions involve, for example, race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc.). Such works include Blackish, Fresh Off the Boat, The Good Place, Kim’s Convenience, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Master of None, Rev., and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. We invite proposals that consider the ways in which such shows may be reflecting and/or shaping current discourses about religion and marginality.

• 2018 AAR Theme: Religion and Film Scholars: New Audiences, and Industry Interlocutors
The AAR Annual Meeting in 2018 seeks to examine the civic responsibilities and opportunities religious studies scholars face. This session will be a practical dialogue to encourage more fruitful, critical, and creative interaction with film and television industry professionals around the world and other publics. Topics may include: film criticism, blogs, serving as a religion consultant on film or television, screenwriting, production, serving on international film festival juries, etc. We invite papers that focus on interaction and collaboration with the industry based on your experience. You may want to respond to the following queries: What skills are required in these new roles? How do you seek these relationships and create an opportunity to share your expertise with new audiences and industry professionals? What obstacles tend to arise? How do you broach religious illiteracy effectively? How does an international context change the dynamic?

Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members
ChairSteering Committee