Course Descriptions

ENG 1220

Film and Faith

Jeffrey Overstreet

MW 6:00–8:00 p.m.

When we hear the words "film" and "faith" in close proximity, we might think of preachy, mediocre "Christian movies."  Or, we might think of allegorical games like "Find the Christ figure in Iron Man."  In this class, we take a very different approach.  We consider the history of the Christian church's relationship with visual art, and then discover how a "theology of incarnation" sets us free to discover God at work in cinematic manifestations of beauty and truth from around the world, across genres, and throughout the history of the art form.  We will study both the craft of filmmaking (from writing to editing to mise-en-scene) and the ways in which film invites us into transformative experiences of discovery, conflict, and empathy.  

This class will require film viewing in class and outside of class (via streaming services).  We will focus our class time together on discussing the assigned texts and films.  Students will keep an online journal of first impressions (at, which will be "open to the public," and respond to one another's observations there.  The "final" will be a personal essay about films that call the students into a substantial engagement with questions of faith.  Key texts are likely to include Visual Faith, by William Dyrness; Film Art: An Introduction, 11th edition, by David Bordwell; Reel Spirituality (Second Edition, Revised and Expanded), by Robert K. Johnston; and Through a Screen Darkly, by Jeffrey Overstreet.

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