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Religion, Film, and Visual Culture Unit

Call for Proposals

The Religion, Film, and Visual Culture Unit invites proposals on the following topics. Please note we are committed to diversity and thus strongly encourage the use of world cinema and global visual culture products as well as the gender and ethnic diversity of participants. Additionally, we expect presenters to incorporate visual media in presentations and ask that all proposals indicate how visuals will be used. We also ask that proposals be clear about their theoretical and methodological approaches and perspectives.

2022 Themes and Topics:

  • Catastrophe

We invite proposals exploring the visual imagery of catastrophe and crisis. Who’s crisis is accounted for and acknowledged? How does religious nationalism or colonialism create disaster? What resources do contemporary religious beliefs and practices provide for overcoming catastrophe? Proposals can focus on the subjects of social adaptation, political activism, personal resilience, structural transitions, or other religious responses to catastrophe and crisis.


  • Catastrophe and the Bible (Co-sponsored with SBL’s Bible and Film Unit)

We invite proposals that consider examples of visual culture that put the Bible into conversation with some kind of catastrophe, small- or large-scale. Someone’s world is ending, somehow, and the Bible casts a shadow over the proceedings. We are especially (but not only) interested in examinations of works that may not be all that thrilled with this shadow. For instance the recent Indigenous zombie apocalypse film Blood Quantum is clearly anti-colonial, and opens with a quote from Exodus 34:12 about treaties.


  • Religion and Zoom

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, forms of digital religion have become increasingly prominent. Now, nearly two years later, we are all all-too-familiar with what the phrase "Zoom meeting" means. Working, teaching, and worshipping remotely through a variety of live video streaming platforms—Zoom, YouTube, Facebook, etc.—has become a cultural norm. The Religion, Film, and Visual Culture Unit invites papers and panels which explore the various intersections between video chat services and religion. Which religious groups implemented or rejected digital visual media during the pandemic? How has the ubiquitous adoption of Zoom affected religious identities and practices? With certain quarantine and lockdown measures disappearing, will Zoom also disappear, or is it here to stay? Are there helpful theological or religious ideas from the past that we can apply to the Zoom meetings of today? We welcome a wide variety of methodologies and approaches, both theoretical and empirical—we are interested in papers not only about Zoom, per se, but about research into the nexus of religion and videotelephony in our current COVID-19 era.


We invite proposals that explore canonical citational practices and their intentional disruption in our syllabi, our classrooms and our research. We encourage proposals that draw on visual culture (such as film, photography and gaming) and that use a global, international or transnational frame. Do we have a responsibility to rupture the canon? Is that imperative more pronounced now, given the multiple catastrophes and crises by which we’re surrounded? To recognize and / or reject morally flawed authors? To disrupt inequality within the academy by employing what Andrea Eidinger (2019) calls “conscientious citational practices” and to model for our students the patience and persistence such a shift takes? How have you worked to create more inclusive classroom spaces through your citational practices; how has it impacted your students?


  • Book Panel

We seek creative panels focused on key scholarly monographs on the subject of religion, film, and visual culture published in 2021 or 2022. These panels can take the form of critical reviews, generative roundtables responses, prompts for further exploration, author dialogue, and more. Be sure to include a brief summary of the book and clearly delineate its significance and relevance for the study of religion, film, and visual culture. Outline how the participants will contribute to a broad conversation on the subject and advance the book's arguments and conclusions.

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.


Steering Committee Members



Review Process

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