Journal Article

Reconfiguring the “Genuinely” Religious Film: The Oral Contours of the Overabundant Epic

Sheila J. Nayar

in Journal of the American Academy of Religion

Published on behalf of American Academy of Religion

Volume 78, issue 1, pages 100-128
Published in print March 2010 | ISSN: 0002-7189
Published online February 2010 | e-ISSN: 1477-4585 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jaarel/lfp086
Reconfiguring the “Genuinely” Religious Film: The Oral Contours of the Overabundant Epic

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This paper argues that manifestations of the sacred in Hollywood biblical spectaculars, as well as in films from Bollywood (the Hollywood of Bombay), have been significantly contoured by a reticulate set of oral norms. That is, the films' depictions of hierophany are tied to a way of knowing that maintains roots in orality (as distinct from a way of knowing historically permitted and/or induced by a cultural investment in the written word). Such orally inflected norms as epical and exoteric abundance, melodrama, frontality, and a telescoping of the real into the mythic compel us to re-think the common critical assumption that religious spectaculars are not authentically manifesting the sacred or that they can only be operating as escapist metaphors.

Journal Article.  9971 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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