In this volume, the relationship between Jews and media is not only vividly illustrated, but it is consciously drawn into the formation of modern Jewish history and modern media. Maya Balakirsky Katz addresses key Jewish-media intersections in which Jews and mass media implicated (or were implicated by) one another. In this study, Katz discusses the relationship that Jews have had with mass media forms of print, film, photography, advertising, and postcards within the periods that these media have gained cultural ascendancy. These historical moments are tethered to a broader conversation addressing the major theoretical issues at the center of the discourse on Jews and media. Bearing this mutually constructive relationship in mind, Intersections between Jews and Media offers both a tangible demographic portrait of the real Jews who entered mass media and lays a theoretical and methodological framework for more qualitative analyses.
Representation, Experience, Meaning
Is cinema evil, or sacramental? Can films make theological contributions? Can film-viewing be a religious practice? How do films, values and power interact? The study of film and religion engages a range of diverse questions through different approaches and methods. In this contribution, I distinguish three complementary approaches. In the first part, I discuss those that focus on the film as text, the representation of religion in film, and how theology happens in film. The next section will broaden this perspective by taking into consideration how films affect audiences, and how the relationship between film and audience might have religious dimensions or serve religious functions. In the third part, attention to the text and the audience are combined with the consideration of both film and religion as agents in cultural processes in order to think about how film and religion are shaped by and shape value systems and ideologies. In the last section I will begin to tackle the difficult question of theory and method. I consciously postpone this part until the end because, in many cases, methodologies and theoretical frameworks are implied in and emerge from concrete case studies rather than being consciously reflected upon. This final section has two goals: it will make explicit some of these underlying assumptions to serve as a starting point for a more sustained reflection on the theories and methodologies of the field, and it will highlight some of the pitfalls we encounter if we are not methodologically and theoretically precise in our work.

Abstract

Is cinema evil, or sacramental? Can films make theological contributions? Can film-viewing be a religious practice? How do films, values and power interact? The study of film and religion engages a range of diverse questions through different approaches and methods. In this contribution, I distinguish three complementary approaches. In the first section, I discuss those that focus on the film as text, the representation of religion in film, and how theology happens in film. The next section will broaden this perspective by taking into consideration how films affect audiences, and how the relationship between film and audience might have religious dimensions or serve religious functions. In the third section, attention to the text and the audience are combined with the consideration of both film and religion as agents in cultural processes in order to think about how film and religion are shaped by and shape value systems and ideologies. In the last section I will begin to tackle the difficult question of theory and method. I consciously postpone this part until the end because, in many cases, methodologies and theoretical frameworks are implied in and emerge from concrete case studies rather than being consciously reflected upon. This final section has two goals: it will make explicit some of these underlying assumptions to serve as a starting point for a more sustained reflection on the theories and methodologies of the field, and it will highlight some of the pitfalls we encounter if we are not methodologically and theoretically precise in our work.

In: Religion and Film
Religion and literature is the study of interrelationships between religious or theological traditions and literary traditions, both oral and written, with special attention to religious or theological underpinnings of, influences upon, and reflections in, individual “texts” (oral and written) or authors’ oeuvres. Religion and Literature: History and Method by Eric Ziolkowski considers the origins and history of, and methods employed in, that scholarly enterprise, focusing on the dual construals of “literature” in religious studies (as a body of sacred writings and as writing valued for artistic merit); the problematics of defining “religion”; the transformation of theology and literature as a “field” (pioneered by Nathan A. Scott Jr. et al.) to religion and literature; the affiliated fields of myth criticism, and of biblical reception; and the institutionalization, globalization, and future of the study of religion and literature.

Abstract

Religion and literature is the study of interrelationships between religious or theological traditions and literary traditions, both oral and written, with special attention to religious or theological underpinnings of, influences upon, and reflections in, individual “texts” (oral and written) or authors’ oeuvres. This overview considers the origins and history of, and methods employed in, that scholarly enterprise, focusing upon the dual construals of “literature” in religious studies (as a body of sacred writings and as writing valued for artistic merit); the problematics of defining “religion”; the transformation of theology and literature as a “field” (pioneered by Nathan A. Scott Jr. et al.) to religion and literature; the affiliated fields of myth criticism, and of biblical reception; and the institutionalization, globalization, and future of the study of religion and literature.

In: Religion and Literature: History and Method
Scorsese and Religion concerns the religious vision of the great American filmmaker Martin Scorsese. Not only will this volume explore the foundation of Scorsese’s interest in religion—namely, his relation to the Catholic Church—but it will also highlight the religious breadth of Scorsese’s corpus. Ultimately, this book demonstrates that Scorsese’s cinematic “re-presentation” of reality brings together various religious influences (Catholicism, existentialism, Buddhism, etc.) and topics such as violence, morality, nihilism, and so on. The overarching claim is that Scorsese, who indeed once claimed that his “whole life” had been “movies and religion,” cannot be properly understood without reflecting on the ways in which his religious interests are expressed in and through his art.
In Clothing as Devotion in Contemporary Hinduism, Urmila Mohan explores the materiality and visuality of cloth and clothing as devotional media in contemporary Hinduism. Drawing upon ethnographic research into the global missionizing group “International Society for Krishna Consciousness” (ISKCON), she studies translocal spaces of worship, service, education, and daily life in the group’s headquarters in Mayapur and other parts of India. Focusing on the actions and values of deity dressmaking, devotee clothing and paraphernalia, Mohan shows how activities, such as embroidery and chanting, can be understood as techniques of spirituality, reverence, allegiance—and she proposes the new term “efficacious intimacy” to help understand these complex processes. The monograph brings theoretical advances in Anglo-European material culture and material religion studies into a conversation with South Asian anthropology, sociology, art history, and religion. Ultimately, it demonstrates how embodied interactions as well as representations shape ISKCON’s practitioners as devout subjects, while connecting them with the divine and the wider community.
In Esoteric Images: Decoding the Late Herat School of Painting Tawfiq Daʿadli decodes the pictorial language which flourished in the city of Herat, modern Afghanistan, under the rule of the last Timurid ruler, Sultan Husayn Bayqara (r.1469-1506). This study focuses on one illustrated manuscript of a poem entitled Khamsa by the Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi, kept in the British Library under code Or.6810. Tawfiq Daʿadli decodes the paintings, reveals the syntax behind them and thus deciphers the message of the whole manuscript. The book combines scholarly efforts to interpret theological-political lessons embedded in one of the foremost Persian schools of art against the background of the court dynamic of an influential medieval power in its final years.
History, Usages, Places and Images of a Dynastic Relic
The Shroud at the Court analyses, through various essays characterized by a multidisciplinary and diachronic perspective, the strict ties created between the Shroud and the Savoy court from the fifteenth to twentieth centuries. Presented as proof of the divine legitimacy of Savoy lineage, the Shroud (of which the Savoy dynasty came into possession in 1453, keeping it first in Chambéry and then from 1578 in Turin) was central to their propagandistic strategies. The court – its spaces, protagonists, and rituals – became the natural setting for a relationship reinforced over time through customs, ceremonies, and images intended to celebrate the excellence of the Savoy, both within their own state and in Europe’s “society of princes”.
Contributors are Paola Caretta, Paolo Cornaglia, Paolo Cozzo, Davide De Franco, Bernard Dompnier, Laura Gaffuri, Pierangelo Gentile, Luisella Giachino, Andrea Merlotti, Frédéric Meyer, Andrea Nicolotti, Almudena Pérez de Tudela, Laurent Ripart, Alessandro Serra and Franca Varallo.
Investigating Embodied Meaning, Indigenous Semiotics, and the Nahua Sense of Reality
In her groundbreaking investigation from the perspective of the aesthetics of religion, Isabel Laack explores the religion and art of writing of the pre-Hispanic Aztecs of Mexico. Inspired by postcolonial approaches, she reveals Eurocentric biases in academic representations of Aztec cosmovision, ontology, epistemology, ritual, aesthetics, and the writing system to provide a powerful interpretation of the Nahua sense of reality.
Laack transcends the concept of “sacred scripture” traditionally employed in religions studies in order to reconstruct the Indigenous semiotic theory and to reveal how Aztec pictography can express complex aspects of embodied meaning. Her study offers an innovative approach to nonphonographic semiotic systems, as created in many world cultures, and expands our understanding of human recorded visual communication.
This book will be essential reading for scholars and readers interested in the history of religions, Mesoamerican studies, and the ancient civilizations of the Americas.

'This excellent book, written with intellectual courage and critical self-awareness, is a brilliant, multilayered thought experiment into the images and stories that made up the Nahua sense of reality as woven into their sensational ritual performances and colorful symbolic writing system.'
- Davíd Carrasco, Harvard University