Religious Studies | Religion and Popular Culture
R102 | 24922 | Lofton

The above course carries Arts and Humanities distribution.

Why does Flanders go to church? What's with those red bracelets? And
is Brad Pitt God? Religion is never merely institutions or texts,
pulpits or liturgy. Popular arts and media not only explicitly
portray religion and religious ideas, but also serve the “religious”
purpose of conveying meaning in the people and values it represents.
Religious institutions market goods, and purportedly “secular” goods
frequently incorporate religious imagery. What do we make of this
messy landscape of faith and capital, image and representation? How
do we organize our analysis of religion and its popular
incarnations? This course provides a profile in the vexing
connections between “religion” and “popular culture.” Through
readings, film screenings, and investigative projects, we will
develop a vocabulary and an analytical structure by which you can
interpret media objects. Included in our survey will be the music
videos of Madonna and Kanye West, episodes of /Seinfeld/ and /South
Park/, and the cover pages of celebrity magazines. Our goal is to
decide not only how religious our popular culture has become, but
also how religious we have become in our consumption of popular

Every class period will include screenings and recordings, as well
as discussion of these texts.  Students should expect the course to
be like popular culture itself: intense, abundant, and talkative.
Will include four short response papers, midterm, and final take-
home exam.