Contemporary Themes in Media and Religion

Key information

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Module code
FHEQ Level
Centre for Global Media and Communications

Module overview

This course critically addresses two themes in contemporary research on media and religion. The first is what has been called the "media turn" in religious studies, which refers to a growing body of work that has examined the different ways contemporary religious practice has become inextricably linked to its mediation through especially contemporary digital media. Examples abound from online poojas in Hinduism to Buddhist digital archives, from the use of social media for resurgent Islamic fundamentalist propaganda to mobile-based prayer practices in Pentecostal churches in Africa and debates on Artificial Intelligence. The second theme examines what has been called the return of "repressed” religious themes in theoretical and philosophical debates in contemporary global media studies. By positioning these two themes - empirical examples and theoretical discussion - in conjunction with each other the course aims to, therefore, firstly, introduce the different ways media has become intrinsically implicated in religious practice in especially the non-Western world; and, secondly, use these examples to help us better understand theoretical debates in contemporary media studies and digital cultures and their Eurocentric and Judeo-Christian underpinnings.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • Acquire an informed insight into the relationship between religion and media in the digital age
  • Understand the relationship between theory, practice and policy across key issues in media and religion.
  • Develop the skills needed for further independent research, writing and thinking about media and religion.
  • Develop the ability to think critically, with reference to theoretical and empirical (historical and/or contemporary) content about media and religion.


Weekly one-hour lectures and one-hour seminars.

Scope and syllabus

  1. Introduction to media and religion
  2. History of media and religion
  3. Media, religion and debates on technological determinism
  4. New media old debates – dissemination and dialogue
  5. Tradition, space and place in media and religion
  6. Orality, image, text and performance in media and religion
  7. Media rituals and audiences in media and religion
  8. Religion, digital media and the dark side of media and religion
  9. Religion, media and contemporary politics
  10. Future trends in media and religion

Method of assessment

  • Book review (6/800 words) - 20% of the overall mark
  • Essay (3,000 words) - 80% of the overall mark


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