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The Role of Media in the Creation Development and Transmission of Religion News Media Worksheet

The Role of Media in the Creation Development and Transmission of Religion News Media Worksheet


Instructions: Below, you will find four (4) sets of essay-based questions. All students must answer the question in Section A; in each of Sections B, C, and D, you will choose one of the three questions from each section and respond to it. As such, you will answer four (4) questions in total – one from each section. In Sections B, C, and D, you are free to choose any question, even if it is related to the topic of your in-class presentation. Do try to avoid repeating specific information, resources, examples, or other content in your answers to different questions, to the extent that this is possible. You may find it helpful to draw up an outline for the questions you want to answer prior to constructing your final responses, to ensure you’re drawing on a range of knowledges developed throughout the term.

The response to the question in Section A is worth 40 points, and responses to your chosen question in Sections B, C, and D, will be worth 20 points each, for a total of 100 points.

When formatting your responses, please ensure you indicate which question you are answering for each section. For example, a student answering the mandatory question in Section A, then question #2 in Section B, question #1 in Section C, and question #2 in Section D, could label their responses like this:

A: [Answer]

B2: [Answer]

C1: [Answer]

D2: [Answer]

The above is sufficient, and you do not need to copy/paste the entire question with your response.

Please do not exceed 1,000 words for any one response; there is no specific minimum word requirement, but for most responses, 500-800 words will be sufficient.

You do not need to create a Works Cited or bibliography, unless you decide to bring in materials outside the required and recommended materials for this course listed in the syllabus and course lectures (it is neither required nor recommended that you attempt to bring new materials into your answers). When you do make reference to a specific item from the required or recommended course materials, a simple mention of the author, title, chapter, lecture topic, etc., is acceptable, and page numbers are not required unless you choose to include a (brief) direct quotation. Quotations should be used very sparingly, if at all, and only if absolutely necessary for making your point as clearly as possible. In such cases, the quotation should be followed with the page number from the text in parentheses, where applicable.

It is highly recommended that you type and save your answers in a document file you can save regularly to your computer and to OneDrive or another cloud-based service, to avoid losing any data when you take time between questions. You can then either copy/paste your answers from this file into a Quercus submission, or submit the file itself in .doc, .docx, or .pdf formats only. Students who submit their answers as a document file are responsible for ensuring their file format meets this requirement. If you cannot ensure this, then simply opt to copy/paste your answers into the space available on Quercus.

Good Luck!


Section A (Required question, 40 points):

In the Course Description in the syllabus for MDSC71, students are told the following: “This course will invite students to consider the role of media in the creation, development, and transmission of religion(s), as well as the challenges posed to modern religiosities in a digital era. By tracing ‘the religious’ in contemporary popular culture, students will identify and analyze implicit and explicit religious manifestations in film, music, and other ‘popular’ media. Students will gain religious literacy and opportunities for intellectual citizenship and interfaith exchange by exploring the ways media impacts, represents, or articulates forms of contemporary religiosity, as well as sympathetic and antagonistic portrayals of religions in our increasingly diverse and variable world.” At the conclusion of this course, what does this description mean to you? How have the opportunities outlined in this description been facilitated in MDSC71? Please ensure you make specific reference to at least 2-3 course concepts, topics, and/or materials (readings, lectures, films, assignments, etc.).

Section B (Choose one question, 20 points)

  1. Drawing on an example from the course, explain how media can be used to legitimize or delegitimize particular belief systems as “really religious” or “not really religious”. What is at stake in this designation of a religion as legitimate (or “real”) vs. illegitimate (or “not real”)?
  2. Liberatory theologies include beliefs found among many forms of Queer, Feminist, and Black Theology, each of which we’ve explored this term. While these are distinct movements in many ways, how might we draw connections or lines of commonality between these theologies and how they have been advanced or suppressed in popular media contexts?
  3. Drawing on course materials, explain how artists and activists have used rap music, specifically, to unite religion and anti-racism. In what ways have the lyrical content, symbolism, history, and performance of rap music been used to articulate religious beliefs or traditions, while simultaneously advocating for radical social change?

Section C (Choose one question, 20 points)

  1. What is the role of media (broadly-defined) in perpetuating and challenging widely-held stereotypes or misconceptions about religious beliefs? Please ensure you articulate which “stereotypes or misconceptions” you will address in your response and speak to both sides of this question (perpetuating and challenging).
  2. How do scholars argue that “implicit religions” and/or “fiction-based religions” function as “legitimate” (or “real”) religion(s)? In what ways can this assertion of legitimacy problematize or add nuance to broader popular assumptions “religion(s)”, in general?
  3. As the title suggests, in the brief text, “Capitalism as Religion”, Walter Benjamin argues that the ideology of capitalism is, indeed, a religious ideology. What elements of capitalist ideology and conceptions of “religion” are used to justify such a comparison, and how does this comparison help us think about the challenges faced in contemporary capitalist societies?

Section D (Choose one question, 20 points)

  1. How have digital media platforms transformed practices of religious ritual, participatory religious cultures, and religious identities online? In your answer, please include a discussion of the theory or definition of “religion” you find most useful in understanding these relatively new virtual communities and the sense of connection or belonging they foster.
  2. How has contemporary popular media been used to advance Orientalism and its associated stereotypes, and how does the film, Paradise Now, challenge Orientalism in general, or Islamophobia specifically? In your answer, please identify one key moment or theme from the film that particularly functioned to subvert dominant stereotypes, and suggest what you might change about the film, if you had the opportunity to add something to it, edit something out of it, or change it in some other way (this can be in terms of plot, characterization, cinematography, use of sound, or any other aspect of the film).
  3. What is the role of religion and religious imagery in the horror genre, and how does this connect to the notion of sociophobics? How can the discourse around religion and horror help us understand broader cultural anxieties, as well as the differences between cultures in terms of the anxieties that are commonly experienced at the social – rather than merely individual – level?

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