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851-0300-89L  Believing and Knowing: Religion within Popular Culture

SemesterSpring Semester 2016
LecturersH.‑J. Hahn
Periodicitynon-recurring course
Language of instructionGerman


AbstractThe course discusses various social scientific and cultural studies' analyses of the role of religion within (post)modern societies. These theoretical approaches are confronted with a variety of popular cultural "texts" (film, comics, literature, art). Which interrelations exist between religion and other ways of knowledge or in as far can popular culture be regarded as a medium of the religious?
ObjectiveThe course aims towards a better understanding of the complex functions of the religious within modern societies of knowledge while at the same time it attempts to detect and describe different forms of the religious within popular cultural media. Furthermore a variety of theoretical approaches towards the religious from the social sciences, cultural studies and philosophy will be critically examined.
ContentTwo decades ago Pierre Bourdieu stated a "new definition of the religious field" with regard to different observations, which still claim validity: These comprise the crisis of institutionalised religions, the concurrent return of the religious outside the big churches and persuasions, the spread of fundamentalism, the extensive absence of the religious as topic of the cultural elites within Western countries as well as the transformation and replacement of religious traditions by other cultural practices and forms, especially by popular culture.
On the background of this diagnosis on contemporary culture the task of critical cultural studies should be to examine and evaluate the significance of these transformations of religions with regard to the often-postulated "societies of knowledge". As "the other of reason" religion and popular culture form a strained connection to rationalism. At the same time seems the assumption of an ever-increasing secularisation of modern societies in the light of these observations to have become obsolete. With the catchphrase of the "post-secular society", academia and public opinion respond likewise to the challenge of this paradigm.
The course examines in a first step the validity or usefulness of various social scientific and cultural studies analyses of the function of religion within modern or post-modern societies (a.o. Luckmann, Bourdieu). These approaches will then be confronted with texts of different popular cultural media (film, comics, literature, art). Which reciprocity exists between religion and other forms of knowledge and in as far can popular culture be regarded as medium of the religious? For instance Noël Carroll emphasises the affinity of popular culture towards universal emotions and norms, which can be regarded as an aspect of the religious. Apparently religion offers over-arching patterns of orientation, which can determine everyday routines as well as putting different corpuses of knowledge into wider frameworks of interpretation. "Believing and knowing" therefore stand less for a dichotomy than rather for a complex relation of reciprocal influences.
LiteraturePierre Bourdieu, Die Auflösung des Religiösen, in: ders., Rede und Antwort, Frankfurt am Main 1992

Frank Thomas Brinkmann, Comics und Religion: das Medium der "neunten Kunst" in der gegenwärtigen Deutungskultur (Praktische Theologie heute, Bd. 44), Stuttgart 1999

Noël Carroll, A philosophy of mass art, Oxford 1998

Hans-Martin Dober, Filmpredigten, Göttingen ²2011

Clifford Geertz, Dichte Beschreibung. Beiträge zum Verstehen kultureller Systeme, Frankfurt a. M. 1995

Hans-Martin Gutmann, Der Herr der Heerscharen, die Prinzessin der Herzen und der König der Löwen. Religion lehren zwischen Kirche, Schule und populärer Kultur, Gütersloh 1998

Thomas Hausmanninger, Verschwörung und Religion, München 2013

Jörg Herrmann, Sinnmaschine Kino. Sinndeutung und Religion in populären Filmen (=Praktische Theologie und Kultur, Bd. 4), Gütersloh 2001

Inge Kirsner/Michael Wermke (Hgg.), Religion im Kino. Religionspädagogisches Arbeiten mit Filmen, Göttingen 2000

Dies./Olaf Seydel/Harald Schroeter-Wittke (Hgg.), Überzeichnet - Religion in Comics, Wuppertal 2010

Thomas Luckmann, Die unsichtbare Religion, Frankfurt a. M. ²1993

Johann Baptist Metz, Kleine Apologie des Erzählens, in: concilium 9/1973, S. 329-333

Iris Poßegger/Sven Bretfeld, Von Thangka bis Manga. Bilderzählungen aus Asien, Leipzig 2012

Jutta Wermke (ed.), Comics und Religion: eine interdisziplinäre Diskussion, München 1976
Prerequisites / NoticeThe course is connected to the former courses "Comics. Forms and Functions of a Text and Image Relationship" (HS 2012) as well as to "Knowledge and Emotions" (HS 2013). Their visit however is no prerequisite for the attendance.