HIS 350L • REEL RELIG: JESUS IN US FILM-W
3:00 PM-6:00 PM
This seminar of no more than twenty students will focus on the more than a century of films about the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. We will begin with the film versions of the Passion Play in Oberammergau in the late 1890's and end with the recent controversy over Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. We will use these films as a way of investigating important developments in the history of American religion and American culture more broadly defined. We will watch all or parts of films from the entire tradition. We will watch and discuss the movies in class. Throughout the semester we will focus on two main questions while watching and discussing our films. (1). How and with what results has Jesus, the second part of the Christian Trinity, come to dominate American Christianity in general and American Protestantism in general in a way that is unique in the history of Christianity in the West? (2). How and with what results have religion and popular culture developed over the past century and a half a symbiotic relationship that has been one of the most important reasons why America has been able to remain religious even as it has also become increasingly secular?
Fifty per cent of the course grade will be determined by class attendance and participation in class discussion. This is a seminar; there will be virtually no lecturing. Students are expected to be at every class and to be prepared to participate actively in discussing the assigned reading the films being screened. There will be no examinations in the course as long as students do the assigned reading and sustain effective discussion. If they do not, Professor Miller reserves the right to give pop quizzes on the course material and any other examinations that might seem appropriate. The graded(s) on those quizzes will be factgored into the class participation part of the final course grade. The other half o the course grade will be determined by the semester's writing project. This is a substantial writing component course. Students are required by University regulations to submit at least sixteen pages of written material that must be evaluated by the instructor and then re-written to reflect that evaluation. The paper topic will be selected in close consultation between the student and Professor Miller. Each student will present in the course of the semester a brief prospectus of a topic that interests the student, a longer prospectus of the way the paper will be developed, a first draft and then a final, revised draft.
Reading for the course will be selected from among the following: Adele Reinhartz, Jesus of Hollywood Lloyd Baum, Imaging the Divine: Jesus and Christ Figures in Film Richard C. Stern, et al, Savior on the Silver Screen W. Barnes Tatum, Jesus and the Movies: A Guide to the First Hundred Years Roy Kinnard and Tim Davis, Divine Images: A History of Jesus on the Screen