Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Religion and New Media

In week six we will be looking at how religious groups approach new media. Think back to the example we talked about the first week, the Amish response to the telephone. This case study demonstrated that rather than reject new media all together, many religious groups instead resist those aspect of the technology that run counter to their religious values. This often leads them to reconstruct their use or language related to that form of media. So in the assigned reading think critically and reflect how Jews and Muslims resist, reconstruct and talk about new media.

We will be exploring a study I conducted related to religious responses to the Internet, and what they have to tell us about how new media impacts religious communities view of traditional religious authority. In Who's got the power Religious authority and the Internet, I draw on interviews conducted with Jewish students from the University of Haifa and Muslim students at Al Qasami Academy in Israel on their views about the internet. Based on the data shared in the article what issues of religion and belief influence their views about new media technology? How do these differ between the Jewish and Muslim student?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Islam and Images

In class this week we will be discussing two articles related to Islam's perception of images within the media. Being the season of Ramadan we will first look at Armburst's article “The Riddle of Ramadan: Media, Consumer Culture and the ‘Christmasization’ of a Muslim Holiday”. Here we see concerns about the commercialization of Islam and debates about advertising images during Ramadan. What does this article tell us about Muslim views of images and the media? Other helpful articles on this topic include "Ramadan Advertising in Egypt" which appeared in the Journal of Media & Religion.

Also for more information on Ramadan check out the following link or here for a virtual Haji experience. Also for another example of a Ramdan Advertising see this youtube video.

We will also be discussing the controversy surrounding decision of a newspaper to publish a Cartoon of Prophet Mohammad Cartoons, published in Denmark in 2005. This even received much media attention both overseas and in the USA. Jensen played a significant role during the crisis in interpreting the controversy for the press and acting as a liaison with the Danish Muslim community. He unpacks some of the core issues surrounding the situation and international response in "The Cartoon Crisis Revisited: A Danish Perspective”. What does this article argue was at the heart of the controversy? What does this article say about the Muslim community's view of the media related to this event?

For more information on the Cartoon crisis check out this report by the USC Center on Public Democracy.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Islam 101

In week 4 we will be introduced to the Islamic Faith with the help of Asmahan Sallah, so come ready with your questions. Also be ready discuss the assigned reading by Dale Eickleman & Jon Anderson “Redefining Muslim Publics”.

In order to help prepare I also encourage you to check out the following web sites related to Islam: Islam Online , Researcher Gary Bunt's Virtually Islamic blog and website and
And for information on Islam in Aggieland check out the Muslim Student Association and the Islamic Community of Bryan-College Station.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

(Ultra)Orthodox Judaism & Media

In the next class we will be looking at one particular segment of the Jewish community and their response to one specific technology. UltraOrthodox Jews represent about 13% of Israel's total population of about 4.5 million and have significant communities in many other parts of the world including London & NYC. With the rise of many new media technologies it is a community that is constantly in conflict with the "tools of modernity" and having to make tough choices about what media forms they will and won't accept. You have been asked to read an article on the UltraOrthodox and TV. For a wider perspective on the tension between the UltraOrthodox , modernity and the media look at this article from the Guardian Online: The ultra-Orthodox Jews on a mission to save Jerusalem from secularism or this article from the Jewish News Week: Secular media continue to scapegoat the Orthodox.

What do these article argue about Ultra-Orthodox engagement with the media?

Before you say the UltraOrthodox only condemn/reject the media...take a look at this exception "Israel's Tele-Rabbi" where one Sephardi rabbi is using TV & the web as a tool for evangelising wayward Jews. What does this tell us?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Judaism in Aggieland

Professor Aune just gave me a head's up on a new Jewish organization on campus the Chabad Jewish Center. (Note their catchy ad for Rosh Hashana , "saw 'em off & make a shofar.) There is also the long established Texas A&M Hillel Center for Jewish students.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Judaism 101

In week 2 we will be discussing the basics of Jewish faith and culture, an how this influences how religious Jews may view and use mass media. A couple of helpful websites providing an introduction to Judaism include Judaism 101 and the Orthodox Union's basis guide to Judaism.

Our guest speaker will be Professor Jim Aune who specializes in rhetoric and politics and has written our weekly reading: Jim Aune, 2004. Justice and argument in Judaism: A d’var torah on shofetim, in Rhetoric & Public Affairs, 7(4), pp. 449-460. Consider: What does this article tell us about Jewish approaches to different forms of media (especially texts)?
BTW--Professor Aune also recommends Jewcy a web site focused on contemporay Jewish culture.