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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.
In: Reading the Body of Christ
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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: Brill Research Perspectives in Theology
Author:

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
Author:

Camp is defined as a style that is characterised by excess, artificiality, theatricality, exaggeration, sentimentality. What could this possibly contribute to Christian theological aesthetics, the study of God and theological issues through the aesthetic, art, beauty? This paper proposes, through a discussion of camp in its “incarnation” in Pedro Almodóvar’s cinema, that it has several aspects to offer. Camp uncovers and challenges the categories of truth and reality in theological aesthetics as well as the artforms in which this truth can be discovered. Its embrace of the superficial and material can be seen, in theological terms, as an incarnational aesthetics that offers redemption through the affirmation of the material, not its disruption or negation. Camp underlines the subversive power of pleasure and laughter against tendencies that dismiss pleasure as escapism, and challenges theological aesthetics to acknowledge the wisdom that lies in emotions and affects. It criticizes by fostering solidarity and empathy, rather than antagonism. Thus camp represents a challenge to self-critically reflect on processes of exclusion on an aesthetic and a social level, and challenges us to imagine a different world, a world of beauty, love and passion.

Open Access
In: Journal of Religion, Media and Digital Culture
Author:

Abstract

Cinema is one of the great media of storytelling that, with its images and sounds, draws viewers into a different world and addresses their bodies, minds, and hearts. In this contribution, I will develop an argument for African cinema as a source of narrative theology that is contextual and liberative in its critical and constructive functions. In conversation with African women’s and queer theologies, I will then reconstruct the narrative theologies emerging from films produced in Africa that address women’s issues and diverse sexualities. I argue that they develop, through images of the pain of sexism and homophobia, a theology of hope of flourishing life. Thus, they contribute to the life of a church that is able to overcome prejudice, recognizes the gifts of its diverse communities, and is a space for all to flourish in love.

In: Exchange