Spring 2007

SOCS 638
Religion in Film

Gottschalk,Peter S.

03/19/2007 - 03/23/2007
Monday-Friday 09:00 AM - 05:00 PM

Public Affairs Center 107

Special Schedule: Saturday-Monday, September 5-7; Saturday & Sunday, September 19-20

This course examines how films, like religious texts and practices, carry and shape political ideologies and forge and express cultural mythologies. It investigates how films, like religion itself, construct, perpetuate, and sometimes disrupt and destabilize social structures, gender and social identities, religious beliefs, and cultural values. We will pay particular attention to the concept of myth and the differences between myth and history. In addition, we will explore how the depiction of non-western religions in Hollywood movies reflects American cultural assumptions. The range of films considered includes popular and independent productions, some of which consciously depict religious cultures, while others implicitly communicate religious themes.

Films include The Last Temptation of Christ, Star Wars, Monty Python's Life of Brian, The Passion of the Christ, The Apostle, The Message, Not without My Daughter, Seven Years in Tibet, and Kundun. Readings include John Lyden's Film as Religion, Jaroslav Pelikan's Jesus Through the Centuries, J. Shawn Landres and Michael Berenbaum's After the Passion is Gone, and a reader of materials drawn from diverse scholars of religion, myth, and film.

The course is designed as a seminar; regular attendance and participation in classroom discussion are expected and will make up part of the grade. Assignments include two papers and one in-class presentation.

Course will meet in Public Affairs Center 107 on March 19th-March 22. On Friday, March 23, the course will met in Fisk Hall 101.

A syllabus for this course is available at:

Peter Gottschalk (BA College of the Holy Cross; MA University of Wisconsin-Madison; PHD University of Chicago) is professor of religion at Wesleyan University. His research and teaching concentrate on the confluence of religious cultures in South Asia, with a particular focus on Muslims and Hindus in contemporary rural India. His work investigates issues of identity, social memory, modernity, and epistemology. Among other works, he has written Beyond Hindu and Muslim: Multiple Identity in Narratives from Village India (2000), co-written Islamophobia: Making Muslims the Enemy (2007), and co-designed the interactive website "A Virtual Village" (2001). Click here for more information about Peter Gottschalk and click here for more information about his work.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
Philip K. Dick, DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? (Del Rey), Paperback

Gerald Larson, SUMMER FOR THE GODS (Harvard University Press), Paperback

Chaim Potak, IN THE BEGINNING, Paperback


Please Note: A course packet is available at Suburban Card and Gift located in Metro Square, downtown Middletown. Please call before arriving to ensure availability of the volume.

Register for Courses

Contact glsinquire@wesleyan.edu to submit comments or suggestions. 
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