Redescribing “Religion and …” Film: Teaching the Insider/Outsider Problem

  • Author(s): Russell T. McCutcheon
  • When: 1998-06
  • Where: Teaching Theology & Religion
  • Classes organized by means of the ‘religion and …’ rubric cut both ways: they are elastic enough to attract wide student interest, thereby enhancing a department’s enrollment statistics, but they are often theoretically unsophisticated, thereby hampering the future development of scholars of religion. After discussing the costs and benefits of such classes, this article focuses on one particular example of this popular rubric that would benefit from redescription: the use of films in the religious studies class. After identifying two competing approaches to using films, the essay concludes by discussing three feature films that can be used in all of our classes to teach a fundamental theoretical topic in our field: the insider/outsider problem.

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