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.
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Religion, Film, and Visual Culture Unit
Call for Proposals for November Meeting
The Religion, Film, and Visual Culture Unit invites proposals on the following topics. We are committed to diversity and thus work to ensure attention to visual culture in a global context and to the gender, ethnic and geographic diversity of participants. Additionally, we expect presenters to incorporate visual media in presentations; authors should frame proposals such that they indicate their attention to the sensory factors of visual culture, including but not limited to visuals. Finally, we ask that authors be clear about their theoretical and methodological approaches and perspectives.
At the November 2024 Annual Meeting, we invite proposals that consider:
- The annual meeting theme, "Violence, Nonviolence and the Margin," and that demonstrate concern for how film and visual media intersect with contemporary areas of violence in our world;
- The visual and sensory medium of photography as it intersects with religion;
- Key scholarly monographs on the subject of religion, film, and visual culture published in 2023 or 2024. 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.
- A World of Horror: As the horror film genre is experiencing a kind of cultural moment, we invite papers and panels which go beyond the boundaries of American cinema and considers horror on a global scale. By "global horror," we mean international films and filmmakers creating horror films beyond the typical Hollywood system and genre, including (but not limited to) Asian, African, Oceanic, and Latin American horror. We wish to open up space for deeper considerations of Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, and Hindu horror films, as well as horror's depictions of folk religions, new religious movements, and contemporary spiritualities. We are also interested in proposals which reconsider horror films through the lens of transnational cinema, post-colonial and decolonial approaches, and intersectionality. How do horror films haunt a diversity of geographies and religious traditions as they raise questions about violence, trauma, alterity, grief, death, and the future of human life on this planet?
Representing a generational blending of rap, visual culture, popular culture, and religion, including Buddhism and Five Percent / Five Percent Nation of Islam, “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)” by the rap collective Wu-Tang Clan turned 30 in 2023. Combining inspiration from Kung-Fu films - including "Enter the Dragon (1973),” "Master of the Flying Guillotine (1976)," "Executioners from Shaolin (1977)," "The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978)," and "Shaolin and Wutang (1983)" - with the religious, political and socio-economic philosophies of Five Percent, “Enter the Wu-Tang” represents an intersectional expression of creative, theological, and cultural genius. We invite paper, panel, or roundtable proposals that address through an interdisciplinary lens these intersections of hip hop, religion, politics and visual culture. Among other possibilities, we are interested in proposals that engage this momentous work as a nascent music genre and / or a series of music videos, as it has rippled across three decades of Hip Hop and Five Percent philosophy, and as it continues to influence visual, popular, and religious culture today.
How do video games prompt its players to socialize? In what ways is said gaming sociology dependent on its accompanying technology? We invite pre-arranged panels or papers that investigate the means by which gaming culture is influenced by its “field of play,” the techno-social gaming dynamics made available through arcade amusement gaming centers, home video game consoles, and online competitive play. We welcome submissions that theorize the time spent in digital life, probe the implications of digital ethnography, and/or approach games as spaces of resistance and activism for LGBTQ+, immigrant/diasporic communities, and other politically marginalized groups.
How have works of literature been adapted or translated to the cinematic medium for religious purposes? What are the losses and gains of such transpositions, and how have they been utilized in religious contexts and communities? The Art, Literature, and Religion Unit and the Religion, Film, and Visual Culture Unit invites pre-arranged panels or individual papers that investigate the adaptation, creation, and reception of such audiovisual works. We also strongly welcome panels which provide an in-depth consideration of a single cinematic artwork from a variety of methodologies and perspectives. "Cinematic" may include: film, television, advertisements, museum installations, graphic design, video curriculum, YouTube, online social media (e.g., Instagram, TikTok, etc.), digital communication, and other forms of audiovisual moving images—we're especially interested in exploring cinematic works which are outside the "Bible film" genre. We welcome submissions that theorize the adaptation and interpretation process and/or examine the implications of such cinematic works for various religious or socio-political groups, particularly marginalized communities.