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New online publication: journal for religion, film and media

Brussels, November 4th, 2015 (SIGNIS). A new journal was recently launched in Switzerland, the Journal for Religion, Film and Media (JRFM). The chief editors are Christian Wessely, from the University of Graz and Daria Pezzoli-Olgiati, from the University of Zurich.

Both are international famous specialists in those fields and both represented SIGNIS Switzerland in various ecumenical juries. The journal publishes peer-reviewed articles in English that focus on audio/visual media, feature films, documentaries, advertising, interactive internet-based media and other forms of communication and their interdependence with contemporary or historical forms of religion.

It critically reflects on theories and methods, studies on inter-mediality, and phenomenological and comparative approaches to media and religion across different cultures and periods. The main focus lies on contemporary phenomena, but diachronic analysis of the interaction between film, media and religion are also promoted as an essential facet of study. The journal also centers on the transmission of audio/visual media on the internet, which has significant impact on the reception processes of feature films, art and music in relation to religion.

JRFM is edited by a network of international film and media experts from different countries and with professional experience in research, teaching and publishing in an inter-disciplinary setting, linking perspectives from the study of religion and theology, film, media, visual and cultural studies, and sociology. It emerges from the cooperation between different institutions in Europe, particularly the University of Graz and the University of Zurich in cooperation with the Schüren publishing house in Marburg. It is an online, open-access publication with print-on-demand as an option. It appears twice a year in May and November and includes generally 4-6 articles.

In its first edition, one article entitled “Re-Making a Difference” by Mia Loevheim presents and discusses how mediatisation as a theory can be used to analyse two commercial videos, one promoting the organisation Catholics Come Home and the other Coca Cola. A core question in the current debate on mediatisation and religion concerns if and how mediatisation changes not only the social forms of communication about religion but also the meaning of religion in society. The issue in focus for the analysis is whether these videos mirror attributes and roles traditionally associated with men and women within religious institutions or offer an alternative to these. By using gender as a lens, we can see that mediatisation challenges religious institutions to adapt their narratives and symbols to commercial media culture, but that also within this new setting some traditional female gender norms seem to remain or even become reinforced.

Another article, by Sigrid Schade, entitled “Religion, Belief and Medial Layering of Communication. Perspectives from Studies in Visual Culture and Artistic Productions”, analyses the relationship between religious practices, belief and the media based on the medial layering of communication. The arguments are situated within the fields of studies in visual culture and cultural studies, reflecting on the role of art as a specific medium in the Western religious tradition. Vera Frenkel’s video “This Is Your Messiah Speaking” (1990) is reviewed as a critical inquiry into religious practices and the media structures of communication.

Those who are interested in publishing in JRFM, can visit the website. There, one will find detailed information about submission, review process and publication. The editors encourage papers that deepen the questions addressed by the calls for papers and free contributions within the wider profile of the journal.

The next themes of the journal will be: the interrelation between body, voice, technology, and religion with selected articles from different disciplines (the texts will be published in May 2017) the complete call can be downloaded and it’s possible to submit papers on www.jrfm.eu until March 31, 2016.


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