Summer Session I
May 29th-June 29th, 2001
Class Times: M-Th., 3:45-6:15 p.m.
Class Location: TLC 201
Instructor: Prof. Nicola Denzey
Within the past
three years, Hollywood has released an unprecedented streak of films
which explore directly or indirectly Biblical religious themes
and symbols: miracles (The Third Miracle; Touch); apocalyptic (End
of Days; The Devilıs Advocate); demonology (Fallen; The Ninth Gate);
dogmatism (Dogma), and the spiritual journey (The Matrix; Stigmata).
These films have been offered in wide cinematic release; they all
feature huge budgets and todayıs most marketable stars. If Hollywoodıs
obsession with Christianity tells us anything, itıs that religious
symbols have not lost their potency, even for self-proclaimed atheist
slackers of Generation X. Although many of us lack a deep enough
understanding of these themes to fully appreciate them, we remain
profoundly fascinated by religious symbolism, in however inchoate
and garbled a form. This course investigates the inflections of
Christianity in modern Hollywood film. Along with regular film viewings,
we will be reading sections of the Old and New Testaments as well
as other ancient extra-biblical writings, and drawing on contemporary
methodologies from cinema studies.
We will focus on this class on primary source readings from the
Bible, and secondary readings from selected academic journal articles.
I have ordered some copies of the HarperCollins Study Bible in case
you do not have your own academic Bible; itıs a fine investment.
Many of the
secondary readings are available here on the course web site. I
strongly recommend that you download these texts, print them for
your own use, read and comment on the hard-copies, then bring these
to class. The films we are watching should be readily available
for rental, if you need to re-view them after we have seen them
Some of the
films viewed in this course contain scenes of explicit sex and violence,
brutality, and offensive language. It is not my intention to de-sensitize
students, but rather to enable them to discuss the relevant issues
that these films introduce.
sure you bring your Bible to each class.
will be predominantly a seminar course, though certain classes will
be conducted as seminars. I will lead off each week with an overview
of the weekıs theme. This is a long class, since itıs been reconfigured
from 3 to 4 credits, like all Religion courses in the Dept. of Philosophy
and Religion., so we will be meeting 4 days a week, for 2 1/2 hours
each day. We will take breaks! We will be watching sixteen films
together over the course of four weeks just about one every class.
Many of these films you have seen before; some you likely have not.
Itıs important that we see these together, together. I will also
be using a controversial "technique" for viewing these films as
a class; we will be stopping them frequently, in the middle of the
action, to comment on things or to read passages of primary or secondary
source material. You may find this frustrating, but the point of
this class is not for you to put up your feet, munch your popcorn,
and be babysat or entertained for a few hours; the point of this
class is to make you more thoughtful, educated consumers of popular
culture and critical thinkers.