How this class works (at a glance)

  • We will meet only 5 times this semester (8/24, 9/14, 10/12, 11/2, and 11/30).
  • We will meet in Ten Hoor Hall 105 on screening Tuesdays at 6pm central time to introduce the movie.
  • For three out of the five films, you will post a brief critical response (of at least 700 words) (or create an alternative movie trailer), in which you will consider the main themes we discussed. You must include our required resource in your analysis. Grading based on completion.
  • We will use Slack to communicate.

Course Description

This is a one-credit course with monthly films and discussions, illustrating the broad application of the skills taught in REL classes, whether we study religion or society in general. We will engage with several themes, questions, and genres this semester, but our central questions will be:

  1. How do movies, as an aspect of popular culture, shape the way we think about “religion” and the world around us?
  2. What is “religion” and what is “culture” and is there a difference?  
  3. How do narrative and memory shape our personal/ collective identities? 

Learning Goals

You will learn to:

  • identify a variety of categories that are often labeled “religious” and
  • describe their historical, cultural, and political contexts. Regarding skills, you will be able to
  • evaluate media and their impact on conceptions of traditions, and
  • compose a sound argument of your own.


Great news! You don’t have to purchase any materials for this course. To make things easy, all movies are available in Kanopy. You can go to and create an account with you UA credentials, or you can go to the UA Libraries website and on the dropdown menu for Research Tools you can choose Databases. Search under the Ks to find Kanopy. 

To help you frame your review of the movie, I have posted some required resources in Blackboard.

Course Components

 Attendance at screening/discussion  50%
Post-movie Slack posts (2 per movie) 20%
Critical review (3) 30%
 Total 100%

Critical Reviews (or alternative movie trailer)

Of the five movies, you will write a critical review over three. These reviews (700 word minimum) will be a critical reflection of the film focusing on the themes we discussed in the pre-movie discussion and in the optional resources posted in Blackboard. You must include our required resource in your analysis.

Instead of a movie review, you can choose to create an alternative movie trailer or poster, advertising the movie according to OUR themes/analysis, highlighting those instead. You can use anything you like, but iMovie has easy-to-use templates for these here. The alternative trailer (or poster or advertisement), though “fun,” should still focus on our course questions and show that you’ve thought about how they appear in the movie. You will include a rational for your choices that cites our required resource for the week.

Please note: The content of the films may include explicit language and scenes of a violent and sexual nature. The directors and producers of the films have included such footage as a reflection of their own artistic expression. In respect to their artistic vision I will not be censuring the films viewed in this course.

Post-Movie Slacks

You must publish two posts in the Slack channel after the movie (anytime in the next week), reflecting on how the film demonstrates the theme for the week.

A Note on Learning Amidst COVID-19

All University faculty, staff, and students are expected to maintain a commitment to the health and safety of our campus community. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, specific health and safety standards are in place to minimize exposure and community spread on campus. In the interest of your health and safety and that of all UA students, faculty and staff, the University reserves the right to change the mode of instruction or schedule of instruction at any time, based upon prevailing public health and other guidance. While the method of delivery may change, educational instruction and opportunities will continue. As such, the University will not provide a refund of tuition, in whole or in-part, based on any such changes. Detailed information on changes in format or schedule can be found at and

UA students, faculty and staff are required to comply with UA System Comprehensive Health and Safety Task Force guidance regarding social distancing, face coverings and other measures.

Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and our herd. COVID-19 vaccines are being administered by the University Medical Center, the Student Health Center and various businesses and healthcare providers. Students who report proof of their vaccination status will receive Bama Cash as a thank you gift for doing their part.