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The Impact of Religion on Cinema

NC State’s fourth annual Impact of Religion Lecture will take place Monday, Feb. 18, 2019 at 4:30 p.m. in Withers Hall, Room 140. The speaker is Jeffrey Stout, emeritus professor of religion at Princeton University, who served as president of the American Academy of Religion in 2007. His topic is “Cinematic Spectacles of Sacred Suffering: Ethical Challenges in Dreyer and Von Trier.” All are welcome.

Jeffrey Stout

Stout’s interests include ethics, social criticism, political thought, modern theology, film and theories of religion. He is the author of The Flight from Authority: Religion, Morality, and the Quest for Autonomy (University of Notre Dame Press, 1981), Ethics after Babel: the Languages of Morals and Their Discontents (Beacon Press, 1988), Democracy and Tradition (Princeton University Press, 2004) and Blessed Are the Organized: Grassroots Democracy in America (Princeton University Press, 2010). Stout gave the prestigious Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh in May 2017 and is now expanding them into a book on religion and power in political history.

His presentation at NC State will be one of the American Lectures on the History of Religions that he is giving at five universities in North Carolina in February 2019. In the series, which is sponsored by the American Academy of Religion, Stout will argue that cinematic representations of the sacred merit the level of scholarly attention that the related genres of melodrama, suspense and horror have already received.

At NC State, Stout will examine the ethical challenges of depicting and viewing the depiction of horrific suffering of victims regarded as sacred or saintly. One of the films on which he will focus, Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), will be screened in Caldwell Hall, Room G107 on Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. This film, which critics rank as one of the best ever made, will be introduced by Marsha Gordon, professor of film studies in NC State’s Department of English.