Call for Proposals

Faith and Film

2014 Baylor Symposium on Faith and Culture
Thursday, October 23-Saturday, October 25

The deadline for submitting proposals has passed. We are no longer accepting new submissions.

Over the past century, cinema has become the defining medium of Western culture, occupying the role that theater and the novel played in earlier generations. Recent advances in communication technologies allow films to reach global audiences on a vast and previously unimaginable scale.

Christian religious themes have been critically important to film from the earliest days. The cinema has produced vast biblical epics and intimate spiritual studies, sensitive biographical explorations and provocative revisions of scripture, and many sentimental expressions of popular piety. Questions of faith are hardly confined to films that are explicitly religious; rather, these themes permeate all genres of film, often in subtle and unexpected ways.

Cinema represents a vast resource for religious exploration and debate. Film, after all, is a medium appreciated, even loved, by people who would not normally be open to religious messages. And, although the scholarly study of film is a rich field, issues of faith are still underplayed. All too often, both secular-minded critics and Christian viewers routinely miss the varieties of ways—good and bad—in which faith appears in film.

The 2014 Baylor Symposium on Faith and Culture, Faith and Film, invites exploration of the place of Christian faith in cinema, past and present. Investigations need not be limited to explicitly religious works, or even films with overtly religious themes. Presentations are welcome that examine the diversity of expressions of faith and its questions across genres and in both English-language and international works. This is not a forum for scholars of film only; we seek reflection from a broad range of disciplinary perspectives. Presentation proposals are welcome from specialists in film, including directors, screenwriters, and actors, as well as those in communications, philosophy, theology, biblical studies, foreign language studies, political science, literature, the arts, sociology, psychology, business, and other cross-disciplinary areas.

Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

  • Depictions of scriptural or Christian historical events and people
  • Religion in sci-fi, fantasy, and horror genres
  • Fallenness, conversion, and redemption as cinematic themes
  • Religion and violence
  • Evangelization and religious education through film
  • Artistic creation as a religious act
  • Film as theology
  • Depictions of sin and evil, grace and forgiveness
  • The protagonist's quest as religious pilgrimage
  • Anti-religious treatments of belief and believers on screen
  • Religion and sexuality: liberation and repression
  • Religion in comedy, satire, and parody
  • The aesthetics of faith in film
  • The box-office economics of showing faith on screen
  • Working as Christian movie professionals in Hollywood
  • What makes a film "Christian"
  • Religion as a force for social and political resistance, rebellion, and reconciliation
  • Cultural contact and conflict as the setting for religious experience
  • Secular encounters with faith
  • Film as a vehicle for moral or religious debate
  • Documentary portrayals of real-world religious behavior
  • Secular uses of religious beliefs, symbols, and people in film
  • Faith in short-form film
  • The fate of faith and film in the age of Netflix and binge-watching TV

Proposals for individual papers, panel discussions, responses to current books, and film shorts are welcome. Abstracts of no more than 750 words should be submitted by July 14, 2014 using the online form. Call 254-710-4805 or e-mail for more information.