SOCS 638
Religion in Film

Peter Gottschalk

Please note: Most readings and some films must be completed before the week of class. Please note the questions posed at the beginning of each reading list as these should read each book or article partly in an effort to answer these questions for yourself.
Course Calendar
MONDAY - MYTH & CHRISTIANITY
What is a myth? What distinguishes  myth from other forms of narrative? How is it that Christians can portray the life of Jesus in such starkly divergent ways?

Please prepare before class week:
Film – “Star Wars: Part IV, A New Hope” (Lucas, 1977; i.e., the original film)
Reader: “The Magic of Star Wars” (38pp)
Reader: Margaret Miles, “Moving Shadows: Religion and Film as Cultural Products” (20pp)
Reader: Bruce Lincoln, “The Politics of Myth” (12pp)
Reader: Sandra Sizer Frankiel, “Structures of the Christian Life” (28pp)
Reader: selections from On The Passion of the Christ, Paula Fredriksen, ed.. (60pp)
Reader: selections from After the Passion is Gone, K. Shawn Landres and Michael Berenbaum, eds. (22pp)
Reader: Wendy Doniger, “Other Scholars’ Myths” (15pp)
Reader: David Jasper, “On Systematizing the Unsystematic: A Response” (10pp) 

Please prepare the night before class:
Reader: Bill Moyers, “Of Myth and Men” (4pp)
Reader: Nikos Kazantzakis, from The Last Temptation of Christ (4pp)
Reader: selections from popular media coverage of The Last Temptation of Christ (20pp) 

We will watch these together in class:
“The Last Temptation of Christ” (Scorsese, 1988)
“The Passion” (Gibson, 2004)

TUESDAY - MYTH, SCIENTISM, & PARADIGMS
How have modern ways of knowing affected the ways in which humans understand the cosmos? What distinguishes a myth from scientific fact? How do both figure into paradigms?

Please prepare before class week:
Film – “Inherit the Wind” (Kramer, 1960)
In the Beginning (432pp)
Summer for the Gods (Introduction, chs. 1-7) (267pp) 

Please prepare the night before class:
Reader: Genesis chs. 1-16 

We will watch these together in class:
“Monty Python’s Life of Brian” (Jones, 1979)
“Contact” (Zemeckis, 1997)

WEDNESDAY
How does Hollywood influence Americans in their understanding of non-Christian religions? What dynamics of comparison are at work? Are they implicit, explicit, or both?

Please prepare before class week:
Film – “The Message” (Akkad, 1976)
Reader: John Esposito, “Muhammad and the Quran: Messenger and Message” (31pp)
Reader: from Annemarie Schimmel, And Muhammad Is His Messenger (400pp)
Reader: Bernard Lewis, “The Revolt of Islam” (13pp)
Reader: Edward Said, “Islam and the West” (33pp)
Reader: Fadwa El Guindi, “Ideological Roots to Ethnocentrism”
Reader: Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, “Islam and Gender: Dilemmas in the Changing Arab World” (25pp)
Reader: Orville Schell, from Virtual Tibet (30pp) 

Please prepare the night before class:
Reader: Jonathan Z. Smith, “Fences and Neighbors: Some Contours of Early Judaism” (19pp)
Reader: Margaret Miles: “Not without My Other” (10pp)
Reader: Pico Iyer, “Lost Horizons” (3pp) 

We will watch these together in class:
“Not Without My Daughter” (Gilbert, 1991)
“Seven Years in Tibet” (Annaud, 1997)

THURSDAY
How do imaginations and expectations of the future reflect concerns of the present? How do they shape the present? What is it that makes us human? In comparison with who or what?

Please prepare before class week:
Film – “Left Behind: Pt 2” (part 1 is recommended)
Reader: The Revelation of John
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (110pp)
Reader: H. Jonas, The Gnostic Religion (60pp) 

Please prepare the night before class:
Reader: from The Laws of Manu (18pp) 

We will watch these together in class:
“Blade Runner” (Scott, 1982)
“The Matrix” (Wachowski brothers, 1999)

FRIDAY
What are the bounds of religions? Can it be separated from politics and economics? When does religion become culture? When does religion become dangerous and require external control?

Flease prepare before class week:
Film – “The Godfather” (Coppola, 1972)
Reader: Roy M. Anker, “Utterly Lost” (42pp)
Reader: Bruce Lincoln, “Culture” (12pp)
Reader: Talal Asad, “Multiculturalism and British Identity in the Wake of the Rushdie Affair” (20pp)
Reader: Talal Asad, “Religion, Nation-State, and Secularism” (15pp) 

Please prepare the night before class:
Reader: James D. Tabor, “Religious Discourse and Failed Negotiations” (16pp)
Reader: David Koresh, “The Seven Seals of the Book of Revelation” (10pp)
Reader: “Transcript: David Koresh and FBI Negotiators, April 16 and 18, 1993 (10pp) 

We will watch these together in class:
“The Apostle” (Duvall, 1997)
“My Son the Fanatic” (Prasad, 1997)

Please note (again): most readings and some films must be completed before the week of class.  Please note the questions posed at the beginning of each reading list as these should read each book or article partly in an effort to answer these questions for yourself.

Required Texts
Gerald Larsen, Summer for the Gods
Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Chaim Potak, In the Beginning
Reader - Available at Suburban Card and Gift located in Metro Square, downtown Middletown. Please call before arriving to ensure availability of the volume.
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