About the Journal for Religion, Film and Media
JRFM is a peer-reviewed, open access, online publication. It offers a platform for scholarly research in the broad field of religion and media, with a particular interest in audio-visual and interactive forms of communication. It engages with the challenges arising from the dynamic development of media technologies and their interaction with religion in an interdisciplinary key. It is published twice a year, in May and November.
JRFM is edited by a network of international experts in film, media and religion with professional experience in interdisciplinary research, teaching and publishing, linking perspectives from the study of religion and theology, film, media, visual and cultural studies, and sociology. It is published in cooperation between different institutions in Europe and the USA, particularly the University of Graz, the University of Munich and Villanova University, in cooperation with the Schüren publishing house in Marburg.
Call for Papers: The Handmaid’s Tale. Connecting Literature, Film, Politics, and Religion (Deadline: June 30th, 2023)
The editors of JRFM invite contributions for the May 2024 issue that address the multifaceted and controversial roles of religion in The Handmaid’s Tale in and beyond the novel of 1985. Consideration of the various ramifica-tions of this narrative in different media and decades and of its impact on politics and social debates are welcome, as is in-depth analysis of The Handmaid’s Tale that focusses on the role and significance of religion, references to the history of religions, and ethical and philosophical aspects as well as its social criticism.Different approaches can be taken and a variety of questions asked, such as:
•How is religion represented and which aspects of religion are addressed in Margaret Atwood’s novels from 1985 and 2019? What is the religious background of Gilead? Whose interests does it serve?
•Can we identify a change in how religion is represented in the novel’s ad-aptations for different media, including audio-visual versions, the graphic novel, and performed iterations? Why?
•What is the hermeneutical dimension of the Bible in The Handmaid’s Tale?
•Which contemporary dimensions of religion and society are challenged by the narrative universe of The Handmaid’s Tale?
•What could be the role of dystopian narrative in staging religion today?
We hope for an innovative scholarly discussion across a broad spectrum of case studies that includes the different adaptations and further works inspired by Margaret Atwood’s novel. Scholars of literature, cinema and media studies, theology, and the study of religion, as well as of sociology or political sciences and other disciplines are invited to contribute to this issue.
This issue of JRFM will explore aspects of this multifaceted rela-tionship between religion and movies or tv series. Contributions might include questions such as:
• How religion and religious traditions are portrayed in East Asian films.
• In what way characters in the films and their plots are guided by religious patterns and traditions.
• How religious iconography is used or referred to in the films.
• How films mirror recent changes in the religious landscape of East Asia.
We invite contributions from scholars from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds, including – but not limited to – religious studies, theology, media studies, sociology, digital anthropology, film studies and cultural studies.
Call for Papers: Paradise Lost. Presentations of Nostalgic Longing in Digital Games (Deadline: August 15th, 2022)
"Paradise Lost" is not only the title of John Milton’s famous epic poem (1667), but also a philosophical-theological notion linked to and emerging from the ‘Fall from Eden’ in Genesis. It expresses – or imagines – the human experience of a definite rupture in history, the inextinguishable urge to return to the period before the rupture and – unable to do so – thus constructs an idealized version of this past to long for. Throughout history, this longing has been expressed in artwork, architecture, literary works and is, perhaps, best observed in the Romantic era with its preference for the past, the future, and the contemporary exotic. Today, the notion of ‘Paradise Lost’ has far from disappeared but finds postmodern manifestations in the revival of (secular) nationalism and (religious) fundamentalism. In addition to literature and art, the 20th and 21st centuries have seen a new arena for narratives and iconographies of ‘Paradise Lost’ emerge: digital games.
When applied to the field of digital game studies, the notion of ‘Paradise Lost’ can be traced in three different ways:
Present. In the past decade, the game industry has been witnessing a surge in retro-gaming as a kind of narratological, ludological, visual, and technological longing for the early age of gaming. For example, some modern games have (re-)introduced the concept of perma-death (Wasteland 2, Hades, Xcom, Diablo series) and retro-graphics has become a deliberate design approach in contemporary games (Cuphead, Celeste, Undertale). The industry – and consumer – has also witnessed the emergence of various re-makes of old-school classics (1942, Baldur’s Gate, Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus as Oddworld: Soulstorm). In other words: the present longing for the past, or the early (or golden) age of gaming, manifests itself in and through the game. Papers could explore this longing for a(n idealized) past in all its diversity, including the social, philosophical, theological, and psychological mechanisms associated with this, either because they occur in the game or because the game itself is part of such a romanticization of the past.
Past. Some games explicitly and deliberately employ and reflect on the idea of a rupture in human history; that is, the loss of an earlier (potentially utopian) state one strongly longs for but is beyond reach (for example Horizon Zero Dawn). This lost period could be medieval times, paradise, 9/11, the pre-Corona time in light of prolonged lockdowns, and so forth. It also includes the romanticization of earlier periods and pre- and non-Christian traditions, societies, and a pre-Christian age. Papers could explore the presentation and interpretation of such a perceived rupture in human history, including its ramifications for contemporary philosophical and/or theological debates on ethically-sensitive issues, like race, gender, or religion.
Future. Other games speculate about what will happen if we die; that is, they speculate if we can regain – and at the same time could be seen as the expression of hope to regain – the paradise once lost to us. Examples are the in-game portrayal of afterlife, either heaven, hell or something in between in games such as Limbo, Dante’s Inferno, or the Doom series. But such speculations do not remain confined to in-game narratives. Instead, they spill over into lived religious practices and can become part of how religious practitioners imagine the afterlife. Papers could explore topics such as religious life/practice as playful life/practice, the afterlife as game, gaming in the afterlife, the practice of gaming as symbol for innocence that was lost.
We invite contributions that explore the theme of ‘Paradise Lost’ in the context of digital games from various cultural and religious backgrounds that take the debate beyond a western and Christian context.
Deadline: August 15th, 2022.
Today the dramas of world politics, social and religious changes as well as global economy are represented and reconstructed on television and the Internet. The media production and consumption involve choices, and those decisions can subsequently be examined. Critical reflect ... See the full issue