Ideological Blindspot in the Academic Study of Religion and Film

  • Author(s): Tenzan Eaghll
  • When: 2019-07
  • Where: Method & Theory in the Study of Religion
  • This essay offers a critique of how “religion” is defined and studied in the academic field of religion and film, and calls for a more nuanced application of ideological analysis to the subject. Surveying the dominant scholarship in the field, it exposes a tendency to provide either theological or mythological definitions of religion and to privilege the category as something sui generis—a unique, special, or “spiritual” domain of things in the world. Moreover, it shows how this scholarship disparages ideological analysis as reductive, abstract, and elite, and fails to consider how religion itself functions ideologically in film and film criticism. Drawing upon the work of critical scholars of religion to support this latter claim, as well as contemporary film studies theory, the article closes with a call for a more nuanced understanding of how ideology is constructed at both an individual and cinematic level.

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